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Assad troops force Syrian rebels to retreat from key town Cowboys extend LB Smith on 5-year, $64M deal

Assad troops force Syrian rebels to retreat from key townBashar al-Assad has vowed to recapture all of Syria as his forces made significant battlefield gains and drove rebel fighters out of a strategic town he once attacked with chemical weapons. Syrian regime troops pushed rebel forces from Khan Sheikhoun, a town where Assad’s jets once dropped chemical weapons and killed nearly 100 people, prompting Donald Trump to launch retaliatory airstrikes in 2017.  The town has been under rebel control since 2014 and its fall marks a victory for Assad as his troops attempt to conquer Idlib, the last opposition-held province in the northwest of Syria.     Rebel forces led by Hayat Tahrir al-Sham, a jihadist group linked to al-Qaeda, said they were retreating to an area south of the town but would continue fighting against the regime’s advancing troops. Regime troops advanced into the outskirts of Khan Sheikhoun but had yet to fully occupy it. Speaking at a meeting with MPs from Vladimir Putin’s United Russia party, Assad hailed his forces’ progress. “The victories that were achieved prove the determination of the people and the army to defeat terrorists until the liberation of the last inch of Syrian territory,” he said.   He also accused Turkey and Western states of supporting jihadist groups in Syria. Tensions between Turkey and the Syrian regime have been rising sharply as Assad’s forces drive into Idlib, where the Turkish military has 12 military outposts. Regime jets bombed near a Turkish military convoy on Monday, killing three civilians, according to Turkey’s defence ministry. After eight years of civil war, the Idlib region on the border with Turkey is the last major stronghold of opposition  Credit: AFP The fall of Khan Sheikhoun means that one of the Turkish military outposts is now effectively surrounded by regime forces. Mevlut Cavusoglu, Turkey’s foreign minister, said that his country would not withdraw from the outpost at Morek and warned the Syrian regime not to interfere with it.  “We don’t have an intention such as moving this elsewhere,” Mr Cavusoglu said. “We will do whatever is necessary for the security of our own soldiers and observation posts.” Turkey says it established the outposts to counter jihadist groups and help enforce a ceasefire it brokered alongside Russia. The Syrian regime says the outposts are a violation of Syrian sovereignty but has so far refrained from directly attacking them.  However, as the regime advances further into Idlib the chances of a direct confrontation with Turkish forces seem to be rising.  Assad’s forces launched their offensive against Idlib in April but made relatively little progress until the last few weeks, when they have advanced rapidly with the support of withering airstrikes by Russian warplanes.   Around 500 civilians have been killed since the offensive began, including more than 100 children, according to aid groups. A young girl named Jana was killed by Russian bombing on Tuesday, opposition activists said.   The fighting has displaced over 500,000 people in southern Idlib and the northern of the neighbouring province of Hama. Khain Sheikhoun was seen as important symbol of opposition to Assad by rebel supporters “One of the revolution’s castles is occupied by its destroyers,” said one Syrian man in Idlib.  Mike Pompeo, the US secretary of state, said the Islamic State (Isil) remains a threat in Syria and Iraq but has lost much of its ability to carry out centrally-planned attacks on the West.  "There are places where ISIS is more powerful today than they were three or four years ago," Mr Pompeo told CBS. "But the caliphate is gone in their capacity to conduct external attacks, it's been made much more difficult," he said. The jihadist group was driven from its last territorial stronghold this year but continues to mount insurgency attacks in both Iraq and Syria.

Jaylon Smith was set to become a restricted free agent after this season, but he opted to take the security of a long-term deal now.
Suspect in Utah student Mackenzie Lueck's death is charged in a second case Dotel arrested, Castillo cited for link to drug ring

Suspect in Utah student Mackenzie Lueck's death is charged in a second caseThe man suspected of killing University of Utah student Mackenzie Lueck was charged Tuesday with sexual abuse and kidnapping of another woman.

Authorities in the Dominican Republic have arrested Octavio Dotel and have cited Luis Castillo for alleged links to a drug-trafficking and money-laundering ring.
US court convicts far-right members over clashes with leftists Gruden: AB practiced in certified helmet, 'all-in'

US court convicts far-right members over clashes with leftistsTwo members of a far-right group were convicted Monday of brawling with anti-fascist demonstrators in New York, as tensions between white supremacists and leftists simmer in the United States. Maxwell Hare, 27, and John Kinsman, 39, members of the Proud Boys group, were found guilty of several counts of attempted assault and rioting by a Manhattan court. A jury decided the pair assaulted four members of Antifa, an anti-fascist group, who were protesting outside an event that Hare and Kinsman had attended on October 12 last year.

Raiders receiver Antonio Brown, who has filed a second grievance against the NFL over his being denied use of his preferred helmet, was "all-in and ready to go" while wearing a certified helmet during Tuesday's practice.
Mexican man facing voter fraud trial in Sacramento. He’s a Trump supporter Carli Lloyd drills 55-yard FG at Eagles practice

Mexican man facing voter fraud trial in Sacramento. He’s a Trump supporterFor years, President Trump has claimed that millions of noncitizens voted in the 2016 presidential election, unfairly skewing his vote as Democrat Hillary Clinton won the popular vote but lost the Electoral College.

Die-hard Eagles fan Carli Lloyd visited Philadelphia's practice on Tuesday and showed off a strong leg, drilling 35- and 40-yard field goals.
Palestinian Authority Bans LGBTQ Organizing in West Bank Jury acquits Mateen Cleaves of sexual assault

Palestinian Authority Bans LGBTQ Organizing in West BankThe Palestinian Authority has banned all LGBTQ political organizing in the West Bank in response to the news that a pro-LGBTQ advocacy group was planning to hold a gathering for its members at the end of the month.The ban, which was first reported Sunday by the Jerusalem Post, was issued in response to the organizing efforts of Al-Qaws for Sexual & Gender Diversity in Palestinian Society, a pro-LGBTQ political group that held an event last month and was planning to hold another in the coming weeks.Palestinian Authority police spokesperson Luay Zreikat said that LGBTQ events were “harmful to the higher values and ideals of Palestinian society” in justifying the ban. Zreikat also accused unspecified “dubious parties” of attempting to “create discord and harm civic peace in Palestinian society” through the group's events.In response, Al-Qaws, which means "the bow" in Arabic, argued that it is an organization that is firmly embedded in Palestinian society and does not seek to disrupt it.“The Palestinian police announcement about our activities is very unfortunate,” the group said in a statement. “It’s very strange that they are accusing us of being a suspicious entity working to take apart Palestinian society. Al-Qaws is a Palestinian organization that has been operating since 2001, and is carrying out educational and professional programs on sexual and gender diversity. We totally reject the attempt to create an atmosphere of prosecution and intimidation, as well as threats of arrest.”An unnamed member of Al-Qaws also told the Post that he and his friends have received hundreds of death threats, most of which were sent through Facebook.“The attack on us is unprecedented,” the man said. “They are calling us traitors and corrupt people and many are calling for our execution. We are afraid for our lives.”

Former Michigan State basketball player Mateen Cleaves was acquitted Tuesday of charges alleging that he sexually assaulted a woman in a motel room four years ago. He had faced up to 15 years in prison.

 Fargo Local News   

    Fargo Views and Opinions
    The Importance of Free Press in a Democracy

    Before we can understand the importance of a free press in a democracy, we need to grasp what it means to have a free press. The Cambridge Dictionary tells us that a free press allows all media outlets to express whatever opinions they desire. That means, it says, that they are enabled to “criticize the government and other organizations.” So why would that be relevant in a democracy?

    Unfair Questions or Democracy At Work ?

    “Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances.” -- The First Amendment to the U.S. Constitution

    Why U.S. Engagement Policy Is The Correct One

    Invariably, when one thinks of the efficacy of a nation’s military, the mind’s eye is drawn to the ability of that country to deliver a \"warhead onto the forehead\" of their enemies. Indeed, owing to the Pentagon’s slick packaging of the First Gulf War, modern conflict, in the American mind, became synonymous with high-tech toys, grainy videos of successful missile shots, and a quick resolution of hostilities.

    Capitalism and The Wealth Gap

    When it comes to the efficient delivery of goods and services, capitalism is the proven economic model that puts people to work and products on the shelves. Whether those jobs end up paying enough money to purchase the items on those shelves is another matter, however.

    Living Wages Are A Global Problem

    The recent protests for an increased minimum wage are part of a larger global protest. The purpose is the same for low wage earners all over the world; increase wages to match the cost of living, and allow workers to form unions if desired and needed. The global protest has gained media attention all over the world, but critics claim that is the only accomplishment the movement will have.

    Ukraine: Not What It Seems

    After tense days of fighting this week, people in Ukraine are mourning the dead and celebrating the removal of President Victor Yanukovych from power. The final struggle that began on February 18, was the bloodiest endured by the protesters of Euromaidan. By February 22 the fighting was over.

    Religious Freedom Bill - Protecting The Faithful or Legalized Discrimination?

    After a much heated national debate, Arizona Governor Jan Brewer vetoed the controversial bill that would have allowed people and businesses in the state to refuse services to LBGT people based on their religious belief.

    Coup Or Civil War In Egypt

    The day after new protests erupted in Egypt the military in a show of support presented an ultimatum to Mohamed Morsi and the Muslim Brotherhood-led government. Morsi was to step down from power and meet all of the demands of the Egyptian people, or face being removed by the military on Wednesday. As the ultimatum deadline draws closer in Egypt, Morsi refuses to leave, insisting that parliamentary elections are needed before he should be removed, and that he doesn't have permission from the United States to remove himself from power. Most recently he stated he will pay with his life to preserve the sanctity of the ballot box.


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