Syrian President Bashar al-Assad. Photo: Joshua Eid/AFP/Getty Images

State Department spokeswoman Heather Nauert cautioned the regime of Bashar al-Assad, in a statement Friday night, against any action in the de-escalation zone of southwest Syria, saying the U.S. "will take firm and appropriate measures" if Assad violates the cease-fire in the area.

The big picture: Assad has already violated cease-fire agreements in de-escalation zones. Eastern Ghouta was designated as such, and was promptly torn apart by regime strikes. However, the Associated Press reports that the area in southwest Syria between Daraa and Golan Heights, is "a flashpoint in a wider standoff between regional archrivals Israel and Iran."

"The United States is concerned by reports of an impending Assad regime operation in southwest Syria within the boundaries of the de-escalation zone negotiated between the United States, Jordan, and the Russian Federation last year....The United States remains committed to maintaining the stability of the southwest de-escalation zone and to the ceasefire underpinning it. We also caution the Syrian regime against any actions that risk broadening the conflict or jeopardize the ceasefire. As a guarantor of this de-escalation area with Russia and Jordan, the United States will take firm and appropriate measures in response to Assad regime violations."

Go deeper

BP's in the red, slashing its dividend and vowing a greener future

Photo: Ben Stansall/AFP via Getty Images

BP posted a $6.7 billion second-quarter loss and cut its dividend in half Tuesday while unveiling accelerated steps to transition its portfolio toward low-carbon sources.

Why it matters: The announcement adds new targets and details to its February vow to become a "net-zero" emissions company by mid-century.

Women-focused non-profit newsrooms surge forward in 2020

Illustration: Eniola Odetunde/Axios

Women are pushing back against the gender imbalance in media by launching their own news nonprofits and focusing on topics many traditional news companies have long ignored.

Why it matters: "The news business is already gendered," says Emily Ramshaw, co-founder and CEO of The 19th*, a new nonprofit, nonpartisan newsroom reporting at the intersection of women, politics and policy.

The U.S. is now playing by China's internet rules

Illustration: Aïda Amer/Axios

President Trump's crackdown on TikTok suggests that the U.S. government is starting to see the internet more like China does — as a network that countries can and should control within their borders.

The big picture: Today's global internet has split into three zones, according to many observers: The EU's privacy-focused network; China's government-dominated network; and the U.S.-led network dominated by a handful of American companies. TikTok's fate suggests China's model has U.S. fans as well.