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Syrian government forces ‘enter’ Kurdish-controlled Manbij region | USA News

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Syrian government forces have entered the country’s northern border region of Manbij controlled by Kurdish fighters, local sources told Al Jazeera and Turkey’s state-run Anadolu agency.

Trucks carrying regime forces and equipment, two tanks, and other armoured vehicles have arrived in the village of Arimah in the western countryside of Manbij, sources told Anadolu Agency on Tuesday. Arimah is 25km away from the centre of Manbij.

The development comes a day after Turkish-backed Syrian fighters dispatched fighters and armoured vehicles to the front line along Manbij and days after Washington took an unexpected decision to withdraw troops from Syria.

Manbij is controlled by the Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF), led by the Kurdish People’s Protection Units (YPG), seen as a “terrorist” group by Turkey.

Ankara says a Turkish operation in Syria will target areas under the control of YPG fighters, including Manbij.

Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu said on Tuesday that Ankara and Washington agreed to complete withdrawal of the YPG forces from Manbij before US pulls out of Syria.

On Monday, Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan renewed his threats to target Kurdish fighters.

Turkey was in Syria “to return the freedom of our Arab brothers and sisters, to return the freedom of our Kurdish brothers and sisters”, Erdogan said during a speech.

Turkey has sent reinforcements at the border with Syria in the previous days, with local media reporting that some vehicles had crossed it.

In the past two years, Turkey has conducted two offensives into northern Syria, dubbed “Euphrates Shield” and “Olive Branch”.

Surprising decision

President Donald Trump‘s surprise decision to withdraw the estimated 2,000 US troops from Syria on Wednesday has created shock among members of the Congress, including Republicans, as well as among Washington’s Western allies.

Erdogan’s spokesperson said on Monday that US military officials will come to Turkey this week to discuss coordination on Syria.

Washington for years supported the YPG-led SDF in the fight against the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL, also known as ISIS) group in Syria.

A senior Syrian Kurdish official said they were reaching out for help to protect the Kurdish-administered areas against a possible Turkish offensive following the US withdrawal, adding that they were in talks with Russia, the Syrian government and European countries.

“We will deal with whoever can protect the good and stability of this country,” the Associated Press news agency quoted Ilham Ahmed as saying on Monday.

A delegation of the Syrian Democratic Council, the political wing of SDF, arrived in Russia last week for talks.

Ankara claims the YPG is an extension of the Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK), which has waged attacks on Turkish soil since the 1980s as they sought autonomy.


SOURCE:
Al Jazeera and news agencies

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When Ontario declared a COVID-19 health emergency last spring, the first instinct of Ottawa entrepreneur Peter O’Blenis was to preserve cash.

“We basically stopped our discretionary spending,” said O’Blenis, the co-founder and CEO of Evidence Partners, which makes software for accelerating the review of scientific and medical literature, using artificial intelligence. “We cut investments in things meant to help us grow.”

It was a defensive posture born of experience. O’Blenis had 12 years earlier nearly been crushed by the global financial crisis. Another looked to be on the way.

In 2008, O’Blenis and his colleagues, Jonathan Barker and Ian Stefanison, hit a brick wall with their first venture, TrialStat, which helped hospitals manage patients’ electronic data. While TrialStat had secured $5.5 million in venture financing just a couple of years earlier, the founders had burned through most of it during a rapid expansion. When the financial world collapsed, so did their firm.

The trio played things far more conservatively with Evidence Partners, which has relied almost exclusively on customer revenues to finance expansion.

The caution proved unnecessary. Like so many other businesses, O’Blenis underestimated the government’s willingness to keep the economy afloat with easy money. Nor did he anticipate that COVID-19 would prove a significant catalyst for the firm’s revenues so soon.

Evidence Partners is hardly the only local firm with technology particularly suited for the war against COVID-19. Spartan Bioscience and DNA Genotek adapted existing products to create technology for identifying the SARS-CoV-2 virus that causes COVID-19. Ottawa-based units of Abbott Laboratories and Siemens Healthineers make portable blood analyzers that diagnose patients afflicted by the virus.

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Shepherds of Good Hope wants to expand ByWard Market operation with eight-storey housing complex

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The Shepherds of Good Hope plans to build an eight-storey building near its current shelter for the homeless in the ByWard Market that would include supportive housing for up to 48 people, a soup kitchen and a drop-in centre.

The organization says it wants to be part of the solution to the housing crisis that has fuelled a rise in homelessness in Ottawa.

People would be moved out of the emergency shelters and into their own tiny apartments in the complex, which would include a communal dining hall and staff available to help with mental health, addiction and medical problems, said Caroline Cox, senior manager of communications for the Shepherds.

Some residents in the neighbourhood are opposed, saying services for the homeless and vulnerable should not be concentrated in one area of the city.

“I was flabbergasted,” said homeowner Brian Nolan, who lives one block from the development proposed for 216 Murray St., where currently a one-story building houses offices for the Shepherds of Good Hope.

Nolan said that, in the 15 years he’s lived in the area, it has become increasingly unsafe, with home and car thefts, drug dealing, loitering, aggressive and erratic behaviour, urinating, defecating and vomiting on sidewalks and yards and sexual acts conducted in public on his dead-end street. Before he lets his son play basketball in the yard, he checks the ground for needles and his home security camera to see who is nearby.

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Carleton University Hosts the Forum Lecture: Towards a Feminist Post-COVID City

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evehe Carleton University Forum Lecture: Towards a Feminist Post-COVID City given by Leslie Kern launches Ottawa Architecture Week. Urban geographer, author and academic, Kern will discuss how the pandemic has highlighted long-standing inequalities in the design, use and inclusivity of urban spaces. The talk will share some of the core principles behind a feminist urban vision to inform a wider vision of justice, equity and sustainability.

When
: Tuesday, Feb. 23, 2021 at 6:30 p.m.
Registration: https://alumni.carleton.ca/event-registration-architecture-forum-series-with-leslie-kern-2/.

About the Speaker

Kern holds a PhD in Women’s Studies from York University. She is currently an associate professor of Geography and Environment and director of Women’s and Gender Studies at Mount Allison University.

Kern is the author of two books on gender and cities, including Feminist City: Claiming Space in a Man-Made World (Verso). The book discusses how our cities have failed in terms of fear, motherhood, friendship, activism, the joy and perils of being alone, and also imagines what they could become.

Kern argues, “The pandemic has shown us that society can be radically reorganized if necessary. Let’s carry that lesson into creating the non-sexist city.”

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