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This Happened

This Happened—November 6: Raqqa Revisited

At the height of the Syrian Civil War, a group of forces came together to reclaim the northern region of Raqqa from the Islamic State. The Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF), who were largely comprised of Kurdish fighters, led the offensive.

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What was the Northern Raqqa Offensive?

​On November 6, the SDF captured six small villages: Wahid, Umm Safa, Wasita, Haran, al-Adriyah and Jurah, south and southeast of Ayn Issa. This cleared the path for the Kurdish fighters to take the rest of Raqqa.

Was the U.S. involved in defeating ISIS?

The offensive was launched in coordination with airstrikes in the area by the U.S.-led Combined Joint Task Force – Operation Inherent Resolve. To avoid conflict between Kurdish ethnic groups and Raqqa's majority Arab population, U.S. special forces also trained more than 200 Arab fighters to take part in the offensive.

The coalition descended upon Raqqa, where they faced ISIL fighters who used human shields and dug tunnels to evade the SDF. ISIL’s fighters were overpowered by the 30,000 strong invasion force, and the SDF successfully liberated 23 villages and farms before the offensive was over.

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Ideas

Joshimath, The Sinking Indian City Has Also Become A Hotbed Of Government Censorship

The Indian authorities' decision to hide factual reports on the land subsidence in Joshimath only furthers a sense of paranoia.

Photo of people standing next to a cracked road in Joshimath, India

Cracked road in Joshimath

@IndianCongressO via Twitter
Rohan Banerjee*

MUMBAI — Midway through the movie Don’t Look Up (2021), the outspoken PhD candidate Kate Dibiasky (Jennifer Lawrence) is bundled into a car, a bag over her head. The White House, we are told, wants her “off the grid”. She is taken to a warehouse – the sort of place where CIA and FBI agents seem to spend an inordinate amount of time in Hollywood movies – and charged with violating national security secrets.

The Hobson’s choice offered to her is to either face prosecution or suspend “all public media appearances and incendiary language relating to Comet Dibiasky”, an interstellar object on a collision course with earth. Exasperated, she acquiesces to the gag order.

Don’t Look Upis a satirical take on the collective apathy towards climate change; only, the slow burn of fossil fuel is replaced by the more imminent threat of a comet crashing into our planet. As a couple of scientists try to warn humanity about its potential extinction, they discover a media, an administration, and indeed, a society that is not just unwilling to face the truth but would even deny it.

This premise and the caricatured characters border on the farcical, with plot devices designed to produce absurd scenarios that would be inconceivable in the real world we inhabit. After all, would any government dealing with a natural disaster, issue an edict prohibiting researchers and scientists from talking about the event? Surely not. Right?

On January 11, the National Remote Sensing Centre (NRSC), one of the centers of the Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO), issued a preliminary report on the land subsidence issue occurring in Joshimath, the mountainside city in the Himalayas.

The word ‘subsidence’ entered the public lexicon at the turn of the year as disturbing images of cracked roads and tilted buildings began to emanate from Joshimath.

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