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‘Civilians killed’ as US-backed forces push to defeat ISIL | ISIS/ISIL News

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At least 16 civilians, including seven children, were killed in air attacks launched by a US-backed coalition aiming to capture ISIL‘s last enclave in eastern Syria.

Fighter jets fired missiles in support of the Kurdish-led Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) in Baghouz, a village in Deir Az Zor province, as part of a fierce battle to seize Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant’s last sliver of territory in the region.

SDF spokesman Mustafa Bali said heavy clashes were ongoing on Tuesday after hundreds fled the battle zone overnight.

The SDF believes 400 to 600 fighters from ISIL, also known as Daesh and ISIS, remain holed up in the enclave, including many hardened foreigners who are expected to fight to the death.

“We are seeing fierce resistance from the Daesh fighters,” SDF field commander Adnan Afrin told Reuters news agency on the outskirts of Baghouz.






‘Civilians killed’ as US-backed forces push to defeat ISIL

“Most are foreigners, Iraqis, Europeans. There are a lot of Turks. We can hear them on the walky-talkies.”

He said ISIL now held only 1-square kilometre of the village.

The SDF announced a final push to retake Baghouz late on Saturday. Since then some military advances have been made, but ISIL snipers and landmines have slowed the ground forces down.

Coalition spokesman Sean Ryan said the US-backed forces were facing a fierce pushback by the armed group.

“The progress is slow and methodical as the enemy is fully entrenched and ISIL fighters continue to conduct counter-attacks,” said Ryan. “The coalition continues to strike at ISIL targets whenever available.”

The US-led coalition said it hit a mosque used by ISIL to direct attacks and employ suicide car bombs against the SDF.

“This mosque lost its protected status when ISIS deliberately chose to use it as a command and control centre,” the coalition’s deputy commander, Major-General Christopher Ghika, said in a statement.

‘100 percent’

While about 1,500 civilians had fled the enclave on Monday, hundreds remain trapped inside.

“The bombing was unimaginable, we ran from one place to the other,” said Hala Hassan, 29, who escaped with her five children.

She said “fighters from all nationalities” were in the enclave. “There was no food. We ate grass from the ground like sheep… Daesh [ISIL] had blocked the roads and smugglers wanted thousands of dollars.”

Heiko Wimmen from the International Crisis Group said launching air strikes against such a small area was probably “not appropriate” but he added the US-led coalition doesn’t have many options with ISIL soldiers entrenched in the village.

“How do you extract fighters like that who are determined to fight to the finish from a built-up urban area,” Wimmen told Al Jazeera.

The sound of explosions echoed dozens of kilometres away and columns of dark grey smoke could be seen from the SDF territory.

Rami Abdel Rahman, head of the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, a UK-based war monitor, said heavy clashes were “ongoing to pressure ISIL into surrendering”.






US-backed Kurds launch final push against ISIL in Syria

Bali said the SDF responded after the ISIL launched a counter-attack earlier in the day. He said there were “dozens of SDF hostages” held by the ISIL.

US President Donald Trump said on Monday the coalition may declare victory over ISIL in the region in the coming days.

“Our brave warriors have liberated virtually 100 percent of ISIL [territory] in Iraq and Syria … soon it will be announced, soon, maybe over the next week, maybe less, but it will be announced we have 100 percent,” he told a rally in the US city of El Paso.

In December, Trump had announced a full withdrawal of US troops from Syria, saying ISIL had been “beaten”.

‘Locked inside’ 

Backed by coalition air attacks, the SDF alliance has been battling to eliminate ISIL from Deir Az Zor since September.

The armed group overran large parts of Syria and neighbouring Iraq in 2014, but a series of military offensives have reduced that territory to just Baghouz.

Since December, tens of thousands of people, mostly women and children related to ISIL fighters, have fled the shrinking ISIL area into SDF territory.

The US-backed forces have screened the new arrivals, weeding out potential fighters for questioning.

On Monday, dozens of coalition and SDF fighters were stationed at a screening point for new arrivals from the ISIL areas.






Examining Trump’s ‘100 percent’ defeat of ISIL in a week claim

Coalition forces stood over about 20 men who were crouching on the ground.

Two French women told AFP news agency they paid smugglers to take them out of the battered ISIL-held holdout of Baghouz, but Iraqi fighters had prevented other foreigners from leaving.

“We have nothing to eat, only Iraqis have food,” one of the women said.

“They’re allowed to go outside while we’re locked inside… I just hope to keep my children alive because my husband died in an air strike,” she said.

Once the “caliphate” is declared over, the fight will continue to eliminate ISIL sleeper cells, the SDF and their allies have said.

“After Baghouz, clearing operations will have to take place as well,” Ryan said.

ISIL still retains a presence in Syria’s vast Badia desert and has claimed a series of deadly attacks by sleeper cells in the SDF-held areas.

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Tiger-Cats claim victory against the Argos to maintain home record on Labour Day

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The Hamilton Tiger-Cats were at their devastating best against the Toronto Argonauts when the two locked horns on Labour Day at the Tim Hortons Field.

Just like with previous Labour Day fixtures, the Ticats produced a stellar performance with Dane Evans throwing two touchdown passes while Frankie Williams scored on a 67-yard punt return as they claimed a 32-19 victory on Monday. With this vital win, the Ticats extended their Labour Day home record to 7-0.

For players and fans of the Tiger-Cats, games on Labour Day are a lot more special and losing is something the Ticats aren’t used to.

“We know the fans are going to be behind us, we know Toronto is going to be chippy, we know it’s going to be sunny; we know it’s going to be windy. Everything that happened (Monday) we prepared for. There is something extremely special about Tim Hortons Field on Labour Day . . . you can feel it in the air, I can’t put it into words,” said Evans.

After the COVID-19 induced hiatus, the CFL is back in full action and fans can now bet on their favourite teams and just like with online slots Canada, real money can be won. Hamilton (2-2) recorded its second straight win to move into a tie atop the CFL East Division standings with Montreal Alouettes (2-2). Also, the Ticats lead the overall Labour Day series with Toronto 36-13-1.

In the sun-drenched gathering of 15,000—the maximum allowed under Ontario government COVID-19 protocols—the fans loved every minute of this feisty game. After all, this was the Ticats first home game in 659 days, since their 36-16 East Division final win over Edmonton in November 2019.

The contest between the Ticats and Argos was certainly not bereft of emotions, typical of a Labour Day fixture, as it ended with an on-field melee. But the Argos often found themselves on the wrong end of the decisions with several penalty calls and most of the game’s explosive plays.

Hamilton quarterback Evans completed 21-of-29 passing for 248 yards and the two touchdowns while Toronto’s make-shift quarterback Arbuckle completed 18-of-32 attempts for 207 yards. Arbuckle also made a touchdown and two interceptions before eventually being substituted by McLeod Bethel-Thompson.

Bethel-Thompson made an eight-yard TD pass to wide receiver Eric Rogers late in the final quarter of the game.

“They got after us a bit . . . we didn’t block, or pass protect well,” said Ryan Dinwiddie, rookie head coach of the Argos in a post-match interview. “They just kicked our butts; we’ve got to come back and be a better team next week.”

The Labour Day contest was the first of four fixtures this year between Toronto and Hamilton. The two teams would face off again on Friday at BMO Field. Afterwards, the Tim Hortons Field will play host to the Argonauts again on Oct. 11 with the regular-season finale scheduled for Nov. 12 in Toronto.

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Roughriders looking to bounce back after Labor Day defeat

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In what an unusual feeling for the Saskatchewan Roughriders, they would now need to dust themselves up after a 23-8 loss to the Winnipeg Blue Bombers in what was a Labor Day Classic showdown in front of a full capacity crowd at Mosaic stadium.

Craig Dickenson, head coach of the Riders, witnessed his team with an unbeaten record get utterly dominated by a more superior team from Winnipeg. Now, he has got a lot of work on his hands getting his team back to winning ways as they visit the Banjo Bowl next.

“We’re going to see what we’re made of now…the jury’s out,” said Dickenson.

Dan Clark, who played centre for the Riders expressed his disappointment in losing what was “the biggest game of the year”.

 “If you lose every other game, you don’t want to lose that one. We’ve just got to take the next step,” said Clark in a report. “There are 12 steps to the Grey Cup left and it’s just about taking that next step and focusing on what Saturday will bring.”

With their first defeat to Winnipeg, the Riders (3-1) now rank second place in the CFL’s West Division, trailing the Bombers by one victory (4-1). However, the Riders will have the chance to even the season series during their trip to Winnipeg this Saturday. With the CFL heating up, fans can now enjoy online sports betting Canada as they look forward to their team’s victory.

The Rider’s offensive line will once again have a busy time dealing with the Blue Bombers’ defence.

Quarterback Cody Fajardo, who played one of the best games of his career two weeks earlier, had quite a stinker against the Bombers in the Labour Day Classic—which is the most anticipated game for Rider fans.

Fajardo had a 59 per cent completion percentage which wasn’t quite indicative of what the actual figure was considering he was at 50 per cent before going on a late drive in the final quarter with the Bombers already becoming laid back just to protect the win.

Fajardo also registered a personal worst when he threw three interceptions, but in all fairness, he was always swarmed by the Bomber’s defence.

While Fajardo has claimed responsibility for the loss and letting his teammates down, many would be curious to see how the team fares in their next game and with less than a week of preparation.

Dickenson is confident that his team would improve during their rematch in the 17th edition of the Banjo Bowl in Winnipeg. The only challenge now would be the loss of home advantage and dealing with the noisy home crowd, he added.

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Canadian report reveals spike in food-related litter during pandemic

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TORONTO — Restaurants’ inability to offer their usual dine-in service during much of 2020 may explain why an unusually high amount of food-related litter was found across the country, a new report says.

The Great Canadian Shoreline Cleanup (GCSC) is an annual program in which volunteers are encouraged to clean up green spaces and other natural areas.

Last year, single-use food and beverage containers made up 26.6 per cent of waste collected through the program – nearly twice as high a percentage as in 2019, before the pandemic.

“We suspect the change may be one of the many implications of COVID-19, including more people ordering restaurant takeaway and consuming more individually packaged foods,” GCSC spokesperson Julia Wakeling said in a press release.

While food- and beverage-related litter accounted for a greater percentage of waste uncovered by GCSC than in the past, it wasn’t the single largest category of items picked up through the program last year.

That dubious honour goes to cigarette butts and other smoking-related paraphernalia, which comprised nearly 29 per cent of all items collected. There were more than 83,000 cigarette butts among the 42,000 kilograms of waste found and clean up last year.

So-called “tiny trash” – little pieces of plastic and foam – also accounted for a sizeable share of the waste, making up 26.8 per cent of the total haul.

In addition to smoking-related items and tiny trash, the main pieces of litter removed by GCSC volunteers last year included nearly 22,000 food wrappers, more than 17,500 pieces of paper, more than 13,000 bottle caps and more than 10,000 beverage cans.

Discarded face masks and other forms of personal protective equipment were also detected and cleaned up, although not tallied in their own category.  PPE waste has been repeatedly cited as a concern by environmental advocates during the pandemic; a robin in Chilliwack, B.C. is the earliest known example of an animal that died due to coronavirus-related litter.

The GCSC is an annual program organized by Ocean Wise and the World Wildlife Fund Canada. Its operations were disrupted by the pandemic as well; only 15,000 volunteers took part in the program last year, versus 85,000 in 2019, due to delays and public health restrictions making large group clean-ups impossible.

Still, there was GCSC participation from every province and the Northwest Territories in 2020. Nearly half of the volunteers who took part were based in B.C., where the program began in 1994.

Data from past GCSC reports was used as part of the research backing Canada’s ban on certain single-use plastic items, which is scheduled to take effect by the end of 2021.

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