Jan 11, 2019

U.S. military has begun Syria withdrawal process

Armored vehicles of Turkish and U.S. troops in northern Syria. Photo: Turkish Armed Forces/Anadolu Agency via Getty Images

The U.S. military has begun the process for withdrawing its 2,000 troops in Syria, Col. Sean Ryan, a spokesman for the U.S.-led coalition fighting the Islamic State, told the AP.

Details: A defense official told the AP that no troops have been withdrawn yet, but equipment is being pulled out. The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, which covers the Syrian war from the ground, says a convoy of armored vehicles left a northeastern town in Syria on Thursday night.

The big picture: Trump's tweet announcing that he would withdraw U.S. troops from Syria was met with widespread backlash from congressional Republicans and Democrats as well as defense experts. Defense Secretary James Mattis resigned shortly after, and Turkey has threatened to attack the Kurds. Trump has since agreed to withdraw at a slower pace, instead of in 30 days.

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Virginia governor announces removal of Richmond's Robert E. Lee statue

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Virginia Gov. Ralph Northam announced on Thursday that the state will remove the statue of Confederate Gen. Robert E. Lee from Richmond's historic Monument Avenue.

Why it matters: It's a watershed moment for Virginia, which has been at the center of a years-long national debate about whether Confederate monuments should be displayed publicly. That discussion reached a boiling point when protests about a statue of Lee in Charlottesville turned violent in 2017.

RNC expands convention search across the Sun Belt

Donald Trump, Mike Pence and their families on the last night of the Republican National Convention in Ohio in 2016. Photo: David Hume Kennerly/Getty Images.

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Driving the news: The RNC's executive committee voted Wednesday night to allow most of the convention to move — with only a smaller, official portion remaining in Charlotte — after North Carolina's governor said the coronavirus pandemic would mean a scaled-back event with social distancing and face coverings.

Oil faces tough road back from coronavirus

Illustration: Aïda Amer/Axios

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Driving the news: Fourteen North American producers have filed for bankruptcy thus far during the second quarter, per a tally from the law firm Haynes and Boone, which closely tracks the sector's finances.