SyriaSource|Amplifying Syrian voices

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A July 17, 2018 hearing in the United States House of Representatives considered the possibility of Washington recognizing Israeli sovereignty over the Golan Heights, occupied by Israel since 1967. The hearing took up this issue months after it was first tabled by Republican Representative Ron DeSantis of Florida. At least one cabinet member of Israel’s government is calling on President Trump to follow up on his recognition of Jerusalem as Israel’s capital by recognizing the Golan Heights as part of Israel. If Mr. Trump takes this advice, he would inadvertently hand an unearned victory to Iran, the Assad regime, and Russia.

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Whatever they may have discussed privately, Presidents Vladimir Putin and Donald Trump did not announce a grand bargain over Syria at their joint press conference in Helsinki. They indicated agreement on several issues: Israel’s security, increased humanitarian assistance, the need to finish off ISIS (ISIL, Daesh, Islamic State), and the soundness of Russian-American military deconfliction. They seemed to be leaving it to subordinates to try to flesh out a broad, operational agreement.

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Since the start of the Syrian war in 2011, Syrian women have been involved in all aspects of the conflict: from fighting, demonstrating and documenting war crimes to providing humanitarian relief and local politics.

Syrian women, who make up more than 50 percent of the Syrian population, are also taking on a more active role in local negotiations to end the conflict that has killed more than half a million people and displaced millions more, including tens of thousands of females. However, women remain grossly underrepresented in international peace negotiations.

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With a Donald Trump-Vladimir Putin summit looming, American policy toward Syria may be on the line. Specifically: in an effort to accommodate a Russian counterpart for whom he has high regard, President Trump may be tempted to short-circuit the American-led post-Islamic State (ISIS, ISIL, Daesh) stabilization of northeastern Syria. The silence of the Syrian opposition in the face of this disastrous possibility is deafening.

A successfully stabilized, liberated northeast is the nightmare of Putin, Iran, and the Assad regime. In its most horrifying version it would produce, for the edification of all Syrians, a governance alternative to a murderous, kleptocratic regime. Putin counts on Trump to serve as doorman for Iran and Assad in northeastern Syria.

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As the battles narrow in scope, the ongoing offensive and strategy of the Assad regime is to recapture the southwestern region which includes Daraa, Quneitra and parts of Sweida. Daraa is controlled by armed opposition groups with the military support of the United States and Jordan. The region is also one of four allotted de-escalation zones signed in May 2017 by Russia, Turkey, and Iran that would halt fighting and reduce bloodshed. The United States, Jordan, and Russia separately negotiated a ceasefire in parts of Syria in July 2017. With the Syrian regime’s recent military offensive in southwestern Syria, these de-escalation plans are now compromised.

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The situation in southwestern Syria continues to worsen. The Syrian regime launched a military campaign against opposition forces two weeks ago and hundreds of thousands of civilians fled towards the Jordanian borders and Israeli-occupied Golan Heights as a result of intense airstrikes and fierce clashes. Several regime advances have been reported, and there is a growing likelihood more are to occur in the coming days.

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Of all the things that could hurt Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan’s ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP) in this weekend’s election—authoritarian tendencies, a poor human rights record, and reports of rampant corruption—one of its more liberal policies may be its undoing.

Polls indicate that the AKP could possibly lose its grip on power for the first time in years, and it may have something to do with the party’s welcoming stance towards Syrian refugees. With elections approaching, the 3.9 million Syrian refugees that Turkey hosts have become a rallying point for opposition leaders, who seek to gain from increasingly intolerant public opinion towards Syrian refugees.

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Canada has a reputation as a welcoming haven for refugees. But for some Indigenous Canadians, public support and funding for displaced people stands in stark contrast to their own communities, which remain impoverished and overlooked.

Last year the nation welcomed 300,000 newcomers, including about 43,500 refugees and asylum seekers. Faced with President Donald Trump’s anti-immigration policies, thousands of migrants have left the United States to seek asylum in Canada.

Many arrived in Manitoba, whose capital Winnipeg has the largest Indigenous population of any Canadian city. The city also faces problems with violence, drugs and homelessness.

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On June 5, 2018 Amnesty International issued a report entitled “War of Annihilation:” Devastating Toll on Civilians, Raqqa – Syria. A shockingly painful account of the experiences of four Syrian families during the June-October 2017 military campaign to oust ISIS (ISIL, Daesh, Islamic State, IS) from its self-declared “capital” in Syria, the report (based largely on a February 2018 on-site investigation) alleges that the anti-ISIS Coalition took insufficient steps to protect civilians. Specifically:

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In early May, CBS confirmed that the US administration had frozen aid to the Syrian Civil Defense organization known as the "White Helmets." The US State Department said the aid–which is part of a $200 million assistance package–has come under close review since March. Unexpectedly, the freeze came after the State Department hosted a White Helmets delegation that same month, which sparked strong positive signals afterward. Senior US officials even committed to US support for the Syrian Civil Defense until 2020.

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