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US commanders propose Kurdish fighters in Syria keep weapons | USA News

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US commanders planning for the withdrawal of troops from Syria have recommended that Kurdish fighters be permitted to keep US-supplied weapons, a move that would incense NATO ally Turkey.

Three officials, speaking to Reuters news agency on the condition of anonymity, said the recommendations were part of discussions on a draft plan by the US military.

While talks are at an early stage, no decision has yet been made, the officials noted.

The Pentagon said it would be “inappropriate” and premature to comment on what will happen with the weapons.






What is Trump’s strategy for Syria and the region?

“Planning is ongoing, and focused on executing a deliberate and controlled withdrawal of forces while taking all measures possible to ensure our troops’ safety,” said Commander Sean Robertson, a Pentagon spokesperson.

It is unclear what the Pentagon will ultimately recommend to the White House in the coming days. But the final decision will be made by President Donald Trump, who ordered the withdrawal of about 2,000 US troops from Syria earlier this month.

The move prompted Jim Mattis, the US defence secretary, to resign.

The US officials said Trump’s announcement has upset American commanders, who view his decision as a betrayal to the northern-based Kurdish fighters.

The People’s Protection Units (YPG), which embodies the Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF), has been the backbone of an alliance that has spearheaded the US-backed fight against the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant group (ISIL, also known as ISIS) in Syria.

They are perceived as a “terrorist” group by Turkey, which has vowed to launch an operation in Syria targeting areas under the control of YPG fighters.

‘Fight isn’t over’

The US told the YPG that they would be armed by Washington until the fight against ISIL was over, one of the officials said.

“The fight isn’t over. We can’t simply start asking for the weapons back,” he said.

The proposal to leave US-supplied weapons with the YPG, which could include anti-tank missiles, armoured vehicles and mortars, would reassure Kurdish allies that they were not being abandoned.






Trump defends Syria pull-out during surprise visit to Iraq

But Turkey wants Washington to take the weapons back, so the commanders’ recommendation, if confirmed, could complicate Trump’s plan to allow Turkey to finish off the fight against ISIL inside Syria.

The Pentagon keeps records of the weapons it has supplied to the YPG and their chain of custody. But the US officials said it would be nearly impossible to locate all of the equipment.

“How are we going to get them back and who is going to take them back?” one of the officials said.

The debate over whether to leave weapons with the YPG coincides with Trump’s NSA John Bolton’s visit to Turkey and Israel next week for talks on Syria.

In May 2017, the US began distributing arms and equipment to the YPG for an offensive against Raqqa, the de facto capital of the self-proclaimed ISIL caliphate.

Washington told Ankara that it would take back the weapons after the defeat of ISIL, which has lost all but a few slivers of territory in northeastern Syria.

“The idea that we’d be able to recover them is asinine. So we leave them where they are,” said a US official.

A person familiar with the discussions of the US withdrawal plan said the White House and Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan would oppose the proposal to allow the YPG to keep its US-supplied weapons.

The recommendation “is a rejection of Trump’s policy to withdraw from Syria”, said the person, who requested anonymity.

Turkey has said weapons supplied to the YPG have in the past ended up in the hands of Kurdish separatists, and described any weapon given to the fighters as a threat to Turkey’s security.

Meanwhile, the Kurds have welcomed a Syrian government advance in the city of Manbij in the northeast of Aleppo Governorate, a pragmatic shift in alliances that will dash their aspirations for autonomy but could help them cut their losses.

“We invite the Syrian government forces… to assert control over the areas our forces have withdrawn from, particularly in Manbij, and to protect these areas against a Turkish invasion,” the YPG said in a statement.

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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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