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US Defense Secretary Jim Mattis expects ‘re-energized’ effort against Islamic State in Syria

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U.S. Defense Secretary Jim Mattis said on Thursday that he expected a “re-energized” effort against Islamic State militants in eastern Syria in the coming days.

“You’ll see a re-energized effort against the middle Euphrates River Valley in the days ahead and against the rest of the geographic caliphate,” Mattis told a Senate Armed Services Committee hearing, referring to territory held by the group.

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U.S. airstrikes, troops and U.S.-backed Syrian militias have dealt heavy blows to Islamic State in Syria but the group still holds some areas and is widely expected to revert to guerrilla tactics if the last remnants of its once self-styled “caliphate” are captured.

U.S. officials have said that in recent days they have seen fighters from the U.S.-backed Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF), an alliance of militias in northern and eastern Syria dominated by the Kurdish YPG, returning to the middle Euphrates River Valley to fight against Islamic State.

A Turkish offensive in Afrin against the Kurdish YPG militia, which Ankara regards as an extension of a Kurdish insurgency at home, led to an “operational pause” in the fight against Islamic State in eastern Syria in March.

Mattis added that he was also expecting increased operations against Islamic State militants on the Iraqi side of the border and France had reinforced the fight against the militant group in Syria with special forces in the past two weeks.

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 U.S. President Donald Trump on Tuesday said he wants to withdraw American troops from Syria “relatively soon” but not before their mission is completed, adding that negotiations over the crisis there should be part of a larger deal regarding Iran.
Reporting by Idrees Ali and Phil Stewart; Editing by Alistair Bell

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Enjoy this piece?

… then let us make a small request. Like you, we here at Raw Story believe in the power of progressive journalism — and we’re investing in investigative reporting as other publications give it the ax. Raw Story readers power David Cay Johnston’s DCReport, which we've expanded to keep watch in Washington. We’ve exposed billionaire tax evasion and uncovered White House efforts to poison our water. We’ve revealed financial scams that prey on veterans, and efforts to harm workers exploited by abusive bosses. We’ve launched a weekly podcast, “We’ve Got Issues,” focused on issues, not tweets. Unlike other news sites, we’ve decided to make our original content free. But we need your support to do what we do.

Raw Story is independent. You won’t find mainstream media bias here. We’re not part of a conglomerate, or a project of venture capital bros. From unflinching coverage of racism, to revealing efforts to erode our rights, Raw Story will continue to expose hypocrisy and harm. Unhinged from corporate overlords, we fight to ensure no one is forgotten.

We need your support to keep producing quality journalism and deepen our investigative reporting. Every reader contribution, whatever the amount, makes a tremendous difference. Invest with us in the future. Make a one-time contribution to Raw Story Investigates, or click here to become a subscriber. Thank you.



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‘It is all crazy’: CNN’s Jeffrey Toobin goes off on people who try to insist Trump’s rants are just jokes

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On Thursday's edition of CNN's "The Situation Room," chief legal analyst Jeffrey Toobin scorned the idea from President Donald Trump's defenders that rants like his recent anointment of himself as "the chosen one" are made in jest, for entertainment value.

"One of the strange things about President Trump is that nobody has ever seen him laugh, like a full laugh on camera," said Toobin. "Think about it. You never see it. And this notion of explaining crazy things he says as jokes is not — that is just not true. He does not joke. When he said 'Russia, you know, I want you to find Hillary Clinton's emails,' they tried to explain it as a joke. It wasn't. Russia went right to work trying to find Hillary's emails."

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Trump’s DOJ sent white nationalist blog post to judges — complete with anti-Semitic attacks

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On Thursday, BuzzFeed News reported that the Department of Justice sent a virulently racist blog post to immigration judges, from the infamous white nationalist blog VDare.

VDare, named after the first English child born in a New World possession, is known for peddling virulent racism. Its contributors have claimed that "America was defined — almost explicitly, sometimes very explicitly — as a white nation, for white people" and that "Jewish activity collectively, throughout history, is best understood as an elaborate and highly successful group competitive strategy directed against neighboring peoples and host societies."

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Donald Trump’s tax cut was even worse than we thought

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From the moment it was proposed, the Republicans’ 2017 tax cut law was criticized for benefiting corporations and wealthy Americans. doing comparatively little for low-income Americans, and needlessly blowing a hole in the federal deficit.

About a year and a half since its passage, the criticisms are looking apt. And none of the supposed benefits promised by Republicans — moderate and extremist alike — have materialized. No boom in business investment, no supercharged wages, and no phenomenal jobs growth.

In fact, as new data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics reveal, the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act appears to have done even less on the “jobs” side of the equation than we previously thought.

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