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Geopolitics

Yarmouk Martyrs Brigade, From Free Syrian Army To Allies Of ISIS

An exclusive look at the evolution of the Yarmouk Martyrs Brigade through the words of members and locals in the Yarmouk Valley in southwestern Deraa.

Members of the Yarmouk Martyrs Brigade parading on a tank
Members of the Yarmouk Martyrs Brigade parading on a tank
Aymenn al-Tamimi

It is by now well established that Liwa Shuhada' al-Yarmouk (The Yarmouk Martyrs Brigade), a one-time member of the Free Syrian Army Southern Front coalition, has become pro-Islamic State (ISIS) in orientation, using the ISIS flag in its logo and echoing ISIS discourse in its statements.

The brigade has also begun to mimic ISIS's style of administration and governance by controlling a contiguous area of towns and villages in the Yarmouk Valley in south-western Deraa province.

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Ideas

Artificial Satellite Pollution, Perils For Biodiversity In Space And On Earth

Exploiting space resources and littering it with satellite and other anthropogenic objects is endangering the ecosystem of space, which also damages the earth and its creatures below.

Image of the small satellite NanoRacks-Remove Debris satellite deployed into space by the ISS

Thomas Lewton

Outer space isn’t what most people would think of as an ecosystem. Its barren and frigid void isn’t exactly akin to the verdant canopies of a rainforest or to the iridescent shoals that swim among coral cities. But if we are to become better stewards of the increasingly frenzied band of orbital space above our atmosphere, a shift to thinking of it as an ecosystem — as part of an interconnected system of living things interacting with their physical environment — may be just what we need.

Last month, in the journal Nature Astronomy, a collective of 11 astrophysicists and space scientists proposed we do just that, citing the proliferation of anthropogenic space objects. Thousands of satellites currently orbit the Earth, with commercial internet providers such as SpaceX’s Starlink launching new ones at a dizzying pace. Based on proposals for projects in the future, the authors note, the number could reach more than a hundred thousand within the decade. Artificial satellites, long a vital part of the space ecosystem, have arguably become an invasive species.

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