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Kurds Discuss Releasing 3,200 ISIS Prisoners After Trump Threatens Pullout From Syria
Top officials of the U.S.-backed Syrian Democratic Forces have discussed the possibility of releasing 3,200 ISIS prisoners the militia group has been holding, one day after President Donald Trump said U.S. troops would be leaving Syria, according to The New York Times.
In its fight against ISIS, the SDF has captured a large number of prisoners and has been holding them in northern Syria.
- The SDF currently has about 1,100 ISIS fighters and 2,080 relatives of ISIS members in its custody, the head of the Syrian Observatory on Human Rights told The Times.
- The militia group was discussing the release of the prisoners since it was "concerned that it would need all of its fighters" to defend against Turkey if the U.S. actually leaves.
- “The best result of terrible options is probably for the Syrian regime to take custody of these people,” a Western official told the Times on condition of anonymity. “If they are released it’s a real disaster and major threat to Europe.”
- A spokesperson for the Syrian Democratic Forces did not respond to a request for comment from Task & Purpose.
- Trump seemed to blindside not only his Kurdish allies but the entire national security establishment with his announcement of a troop withdrawal this week.
- Defense Secretary Jim Mattis had opposed a pullout and had argued that U.S. should keep a small U.S. presence in the country, according to The Washington Post.
- And one of the president's allies in Congress, Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.), blasted the decision as a "huge Obama-like mistake."
- Still, the Pentagon confirmed it would begin drawing down forces in Syria but did not provide specifics.
- “The coalition has liberated the ISIS-held territory, but the campaign against ISIS is not over,” Chief Pentagon spokeswoman Dana White said. “We have started the process of returning U.S. troops home from Syria as we transition to the next phase of the campaign."
WATCH: President Trump Discusses Syria
A Vietnam vet found covered in ant bites is forcing the Atlanta VA to finally reckon with years of dangerous practices
Dawn Brys got an early taste of the crisis unfolding at the largest Veterans Affairs hospital in the Southeast.
The Air Force vet said she went to the Atlanta VA Medical Center in Decatur last year for surgery on a broken foot. But the doctor called it off because the surgical instruments hadn't been properly sterilized.
"The tools had condensation on them," recalled Brys, a 50-year-old Marietta resident. The doctor rescheduled it for the next day.
Now the 400-plus-bed hospital on Clairmont Road that serves about 120,000 military veterans is in a state of emergency. It suspended routine surgeries in late September after a string of incidents that exposed mismanagement and dangerous practices. It hopes to resume normal operations by early November as it struggles to retrain staff and hire new nurses.
The partial shutdown came about two weeks after Joel Marrable, a cancer patient in the same VA complex, was found covered with more than 100 ant bites by his daughter. Also in September, the hospital's canteen was temporarily closed for a pest investigation.
The mounting problems triggered a leadership shakeup Sept. 17, when regional director Leslie Wiggins was put on administrative leave. Dr. Arjay K. Dhawan, the regional medical director, was moved to administrative duties pending an investigation. Seven staff members were reassigned to non-patient care.
The only question for some military veterans and staff is why the VA waited so long. They say problems existed for years under Wiggins' leadership, but little was done.
The former Secretary of the Department of Veterans Affairs thinks that the VA needs to start researching medical marijuana. Not in a bit. Not soon. Right goddamn now.
WASHINGTON (Reuters) - President Donald Trump's withholding of $391 million in military aid to Ukraine was linked to his request that the Ukrainians look into a claim — debunked as a conspiracy theory — about the 2016 U.S. election, a senior presidential aide said on Thursday, the first time the White House acknowledged such a connection.
Trump and administration officials had denied for weeks that they had demanded a "quid pro quo" - a Latin phrase meaning a favor for a favor - for delivering the U.S. aid, a key part of a controversy that has triggered an impeachment inquiry in the House of Representatives against the Republican president.
But Mick Mulvaney, acting White House chief of staff, acknowledged in a briefing with reporters that the U.S. aid — already approved by Congress — was held up partly over Trump's concerns about a Democratic National Committee (DNC) computer server alleged to be in Ukraine.
"I have news for everybody: Get over it. There is going to be political influence in foreign policy," Mulvaney said.
CEYLANPINAR, Turkey (Reuters) - Shelling could be heard at the Syrian-Turkish border on Friday morning despite a five-day ceasefire agreed between Turkey and the United States, and Washington said the deal covered only a small part of the territory Ankara aims to seize.
Reuters journalists at the border heard machine-gun fire and shelling and saw smoke rising from the Syrian border battlefield city of Ras al Ain, although the sounds of fighting had subsided by mid-morning.
The truce, announced on Thursday by U.S. Vice President Mike Pence after talks in Ankara with Turkish President Tayyip Erdogan, sets out a five-day pause to let the Kurdish-led SDF militia withdraw from an area controlled by Turkish forces.
The SDF said air and artillery attacks continued to target its positions and civilian targets in Ral al Ain.
"Turkey is violating the ceasefire agreement by continuing to attack the town since last night," SDF spokesman Mustafa Bali tweeted.
The Kurdish-led administration in the area said Turkish truce violations in Ras al Ain had caused casualties, without giving details.
Boyfriends can sometimes do some really weird shit. Much of it is well-meaning: A boy I liked in high school once sang me a screamo song that he wrote over the phone. He thought it would be sweet, and while I appreciated that he wanted to share it with me, I also had no idea what he was saying. Ah, young love.
Sure, this sounds cringeworthy. But then there's 2020 Democratic presidential candidate Cory Booker, who appears to be, dare I say, the best boyfriend?