Pedestrian in serious condition after being struck by vehicle in Abbotsford

A pedestrian was taken to hospital in serious condition on Wednesday, after being struck by a vehicle in Abbotsford.

It happened around noon, in the 32400-block of Simon Avenue.

Police say the driver of the vehicle, a Dodge SUV, remained on scene and co-operated.

Roads in the area remained closed for about two hours while collision specialists investigated.

It remains unclear what led up to the crash.


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Mattis: Defence plan focus on Russia, China, not terror

US defence chief outlines the US’s new security strategy, warns of diminished capability ‘in every domain of warfare’.

    United States Defence Secretary James Mattis has said that “great power competition, not terrorism” will now be the main focus of national security policy.

    Mattis, unveiling the US’s first new defence strategy in a decade on Friday, said the US is facing growing threats from countries such as Russia and China, calling them “revisionist powers” that “seek to create a world consistent with their authoritarian models”.

    “Today, America’s military reclaims an era of strategic purpose and we’re alert to the realities of a changing world and attentive to the need to protect our values and the countries that stand with us,” he said at the School of Advanced International Studies in Washington.

    “Adapting to today’s realities, this strategy expands our competitive space, prioritises preparedness for war, provides clear direction for significant change at the speed of relevance, and builds a more lethal force to compete strategically.”

    China was quick to respond to Mattis’ comments, with a spokesperson for the country’s embassy in the US saying Beijing is seeking “global partnership, not global dominance” in a statement on Saturday.

    “China and the United States shoulder important responsibilities and have extensive common interests in upholding world peace and stability and promoting global development and prosperity,” the statement said.

    Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov, meanwhile, called the new defence strategy confrontational.

    “It is regrettable that instead of having a normal dialogue, instead of using the basis of international law, the US is striving to prove their leadership through such confrontational strategies and concepts,” he told reporters at the UN headquarters, in New York, on Friday.

    Mattis, however, said that the US has lost its “competitive edge … in every domain of warfare” and now has an “overstretched and under-resourced military” created by ongoing conflicts in Afghanistan, Iraq and Syria, technological change and defence spending caps imposed by Congress.

    “We need Congress back in the driver’s seat of budget decisions, not in the spectator seat of Budget Control Acts’ indiscriminate and automatic cuts. We need a budget and we need budget predictability if we’re to sustain our military’s primacy,” he said.

    US President Donald Trump has pledged to increase the US’ defence spending by $54bn as part of his administration’s 2018 budget.

    However, the federal government shut down on Saturday after members of Congress failed to reach an agreement on the government’s spending plans.

    Trump said in a post on Twitter that the situation was “not looking good” for the US military as a result of the impasse.

    “Not looking good for our great Military or Safety & Security on the very dangerous Southern Border. Dems want a Shutdown in order to help diminish the great success of the Tax Cuts, and what they are doing for our booming economy,” he said.

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    Greek PM Tsipras wins confidence vote, eyes Macedonia accord

    ATHENS (Reuters) – Greek Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras won a confidence vote in parliament on Wednesday, clearing a major hurdle for Greece’s approval of an accord to end a dispute over Macedonia’s name and averting the prospect of a snap election.

    Tsipras called the confidence motion after his right-wing coalition partner Panos Kammenos quit the government on Jan. 13 in protest over the name deal signed between Athens and Skopje last year.

    Parliament gave Tsipras 151 votes, meeting the threshold he required in the 300-member assembly. His leftist Syriza party has 145 seats in parliament while additional support was gleaned by defectors of Kammenos’s ANEL party and independents.

    “I call upon you with hand on heart to give a vote of confidence to the government which gave battle, which bled, but managed to haul the country out of memorandums and surveillance,” Tsipras said, referring to Greece’s international lenders who kept the country on a tight leash for years.

    He described the vote as a ‘vote of confidence in stability’.

    “Our only concern is to continue to address the needs and interests of the Greek people,” Tsipras told journalists.

    Greek opponents of the agreement say Macedonia’s new name – the Republic of North Macedonia, reached after decades of dispute between Athens and Skopje, represents an attempt to appropriate Greek identity.

    Macedonia is the name of Greece’s biggest northern region. The deal was signed between the two countries in mid-2018, contingent on ratification of parliaments in both countries and a necessary step for the tiny Balkan state to be considered for European Union and NATO membership.

    The Macedonian parliament ratified the pact last week. It has yet to be brought to a vote by Greece, though that is expected this month.

    Tsipras, whose four-year term expires in October, has faced down parliament before on the Macedonia deal. He survived a no-confidence vote mounted by the opposition when the two states agreed on a compromise in June 2018.

    But setting the stage for more acrimony over an issue which is a red flag for many Greeks, opposition parties have decried the deal as a national sell out, while demonstrators plan to protest in central Athens on Jan. 20. Past protests have drawn hundreds of thousands.

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    • Greek PM says winning confidence vote is vote for stabilityGreek PM says winning confidence vote is vote for stability

    “This is a nationally-damaging agreement,” Kyriakos Mitsotakis, head of the main opposition New Democracy conservatives, told parliament during the confidence debate.

    He repeatedly called the administration “a ragbag government” clutching at straws to stay in power.

    “Elections are the only solution for the country to move ahead … for Greeks to take their fate into their hands. Just leave.” he said.

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    DR Congo violence: Families fear resurgence of fighting

    Fighting has slowed in the Kasai region, but locals say the government is not abiding by the ceasefire and security for the returning populace is still a concern.

      Hundreds of thousands of people – many of them farmers – are returning home in the Democratic Republic of Congo after months in hiding.

      Fighting between the army and rebels from the Kasai region broke out in August 2016, killing more than 3,000 people since and people are worried a fragile peace could end at any time.

      Al Jazeera’s Catherine Soi reports from Kasai-central.

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      Egypt presidential hopeful halts campaign after arrest

      Sami Anan has suspended his campaign for president of Egypt only hours after he was arrested by the army.

        The former head of Egypt’s armed forces, Sami Anan, has suspended his run for the country’s presidency, a campaign spokesperson has confirmed.

        The decision comes only hours after the Supreme Committee of the Armed Forces (SCAF) in Egypt arrested Anan on accusations he had committed violations that “warrant official investigation”.

        Anan’s candidacy for the March presidential elections will be suspended “until further notice”, his campaign said in a statement on Tuesday.

        In a statement released earlier in the day, SCAF said that the 69-year-old, who announced his candidacy on Sunday, had forged official documents to end his military service and had not obtained the army’s approval to run.

        “The Armed Forces do not condone the blatant breach of the rules and regulations of military service that the accused has committed, such as committing the crime of forgery represented in the termination of his service in the armed forces, which led to his inclusion in the electoral roster,” the statement said.

        The statement also said that Anan was seeking to divide the armed forces and citizens.

        Anan had announced his intention to run, two hours after current President Abdel Fattah el-Sisi declared his plan to seek a second term.

        In a speech posted on his Facebook page, Anan called on the country’s civil and military institutions to be neutral in the presidential race.

        He said he was running because the plight of the Egyptian people was worsening with the military’s overbearing control of the administration.

        This, he said, did not enable the private sector to play its role in running the affairs of the state.

        Earlier, Egyptian authorities stormed the homes of Anan’s presidential campaigners and arrested a number of them. Anan’s campaign announced the suspension of work on their Facebook page out of fear for their employees’ safety.

        Omar Ashour, a professor at the Institute of Arab and Islamic Studies at the University of Exeter, told Al Jazeera he believed the Sisi regime would allow a candidate into the race who is not as threatening to Sisi’s re-election as Anan was.

        “Now we’ll have to wait and see who will come up,” Ashour said.

        “Probably somebody who does not have that much support on the ground and does not have any support in the military establishment.”

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        Deadly suicide blast hits Afghan capital

        Attack in Kabul kills at least 11 people and wounds 25 others as ISIL claims responsibility.

          At least 11 people have been killed in a suicide bombing targeting security forces in the Afghan capital Kabul.

          Waheed Majrooh, a spokesman for Afghanistan’s Ministry of Public Health, told Al Jazeera at least 25 others were wounded in Thursday’s attack, which happened in the Banaee area of Kabul’s PD9 district.

          Najib Danish, deputy spokesman for the Afghan interior ministry, told Anadolu Agency that police officers and civilians were among the victims.

          Ambulances rushed to the scene to transfer the wounded to hospitals from the area close to the US embassy and other foreign missions.

          The blast happened as police reportedly were carrying out an operation searching for people who were suspected of selling alcohol illegally.

          The local Tolo News said 15 people were killed and another 20 people wounded in the bombing, which President Mohammad Ashraf Ghani called an “inhuman terrorist attack”.

          The Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) group issued a statement via its Amaq propaganda site saying it was responsible for the blast.

          A suicide bomber wearing an explosive vest targeted police officers and intelligence agents, killing or wounding about 80 of them, it said.

          The attack is the latest in a wave of violence that killed hundreds of civilians in Afghanistan in 2017.

          Both ISIL and the Taliban have carried out attacks in Afghanistan.

          Thursday’s bombing happened days after a suicide attacker killed at least 41 people and wounded more than 80 others at a Shia cultural centre in Kabul, underlining the precarious security situation in the Afghan capital.

          It too was claimed by ISIL.

          Another attack during funeral prayers in Jalalabad city killed 15 people.


          Inside Story

          Is there a way forward in Afghanistan?

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          Tillerson denies US plans to form Syria border force

          Reported US-initiated Syria border force is ‘misportrayed, misdescribed and some people misspoke’, top US diplomat says.

            US Secretary of State Rex Tillerson has said that Washington owed Turkey an explanation over reports that it was creating a 30,000-strong border force in northern Syria, adding that the issue has been “misportrayed”.

            “That entire situation has been misportrayed, misdescribed, some people misspoke. We are not creating a border security force at all,” Tillerson told reporters on his way back from giving a speech at Stanford University in California on Wednesday.

            According to media reports, Washington is working to establish the border security force with the involvement of Kurdish militias.

            Citing several other US officials, reports published earlier this week said that the US-led coalition fighting the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL, also known as ISIS) armed group would recruit around half of the new force from the Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF), an umbrella group of fighters dominated by the Kurdish People’s Protection Units (YPG) and considered by Ankara to be a “terrorist” group.

            The Turkish government said that it would carry out a military operation into Kurdish-held areas in northern Syria if Washington goes ahead with the reported plan.

            Furthermore, Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu said relations between Turkey and the US would be “irreversibly harmed” if Washington forms the force in question, after meeting Tillerson in Vancouver on Tuesday on the sidelines of a gathering to discuss sanctions against North Korea.

            Tillerson said in California he had told Cavusoglu that the US’ intention was to train local forces in the fight against remaining ISIL fighters in Syria.

            “We have ISIS still attacking in parts of northwest Syria and along the Euphrates valley, so this is just more training and trying to block ISIS from their escape routes,” said Tillerson.

            “We understand why they reacted the way they did,” he said, amid Turkish preparations to launch an operation against the YPG.

            Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan said various times recently that Turkey’s armed forces had completed preparations for an operation against the Kurdish-controlled region of Afrin in northwest Syria.

            He added that the operation will be carried out in cooperation with moderate Syrian rebels supported by Ankara.

            Ankara reinforcing border

            US President Donald Trump decided to arm YPG fighters, despite Turkey’s objections and a direct appeal from Erdogan at a White House meeting in May 2017.

            The US arms shipments began before the launch of a months-long offensive to remove ISIL from the Syrian city of Raqqa. The YPG played a prominent role in the eventual defeat of the group later in 2017.

            Tensions between US and Turkey – two NATO allies – remain high, despite Trump saying last November that Washington would no longer supply weapons to the YPG. Ankara says that the US is not keeping its promises it made to Turkey.

            Ankara has been reinforcing its southern border by sending armoured vehicles, tanks, and heavy machine guns, according to local media.

            Turkey has been working closely with Russia and Iran to end the long-running Syrian war, despite Moscow and Tehran supporting Syrian President Bashar al-Assad – and Ankara backing the anti-Assad opposition.

            Syria and Russia made statements in line with Turkey earlier in the week, opposing the reported US plans to establish a border force in the north of Syria.

            In 2016, Turkey began a military campaign called Euphrates Shield Operation, which targeted ISIL and the YPG. That eight-month battle officially ended in March 2017.


            Inside Story

            Could 2018 be the year of peace in Syria?

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            Syrian snowstorm survivors urge Lebanon 'to open the border'

            Seventeen refugees froze to death while illegally trying to cross into Lebanon along a well-known people-smuggling route last week.

              Syrians who survived a deadly snowstorm along the country’s mountainous border are calling on the Lebanese government to open its doors to refugees.

              Seventeen refugees froze to death while illegally crossing into Lebanon along a well-known people-smuggling route last week.

              Al Jazeera’s Zeina Khodr reports from the Bekaa Valley.

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              Iran: Mass pro-government rallies after days of unrest

              General Mohammad Ali Jafari announces end of unrest as tens of thousands rally in support of the ruling religious elite.

                Tens of thousands of Iranians have taken to the streets to rally in support of the Iranian government, after six days of anti-establishment nationwide protests in which at least 22 people were killed.

                The protests on Wednesday came hours before General Mohammad Ali Jafari, head of Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps (IRGC), declared the unrest as over.

                “Today we can announce the end of the sedition,” Jafari said, quoted on the Guards’ website.

                “A large number of the trouble-makers at the centre of the sedition, who received training from counter-revolutionaries … have been arrested and there will be firm action against them,” he added.

                State media had previously reported the arrests of at least 530 people: 450 in Iran’s capital, Tehran, and 80 in the central city of Arak.

                Earlier on Wednesday, pro-government demonstrators gathered in at least 10 cities, including Tehran, to condemn the rallies that put Iran in turmoil for almost a week, according to state media.

                TV pictures showed people carrying banners in support of the government and shouting slogans against the United States, Israel and Saudi Arabia.

                The footage of the pro-government rallies by state media was in broad contrast to the coverage of the past week’s demonstrations against Iran’s leadership.

                Those protests started in the city of Mashhad on December 28 before spreading to other cities.

                Participants initially protested against rising prices, long-standing unemployment and economic inequality, but their grievances quickly turned political, in the biggest display of public dissent since pro-reform rallies swept the country in 2009.

                Iran restricted access to Instagram and Telegram social media apps as a security measure during the anti-government rallies, according to state TV.

                On Tuesday, in his first public remarks since the rallies erupted, Iran’s Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei blamed external “enemies” for the turmoil.

                Khamenei said that powers against Iran allied and used the various means they have available, including “money, weapons, politics, and intelligence services”, to stir unrest.

                “The dignity, security, and progress of the Iranian nation are owed to the self-sacrifice of the martyrs. What prevents enemies from exerting their atrocities is the spirit of courage, sacrifice, and faith within the nation,” he said.

                His comments came hours before the US said it would seek emergency talks at the United Nations regarding the situation in the country.

                US President Donald Trump called the Iranian government “oppressive”, in a series of tweets, and warned it to respect the people’s right to protest.

                “Oppressive regimes cannot endure forever. The world is watching!” he said in a tweet last week.

                “The people of Iran are finally acting against the brutal and corrupt Iranian regime,” he said in another on Tuesday.

                Relations between Washington and Tehran have been particularly tense since Trump decertified the 2015 Iran nuclear deal.

                Under Trump’s administration, the two sides have also been clashing on a number of foreign policy issues.

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                Canadian veterans demand accountability over medication

                Canadian military veterans say they were required to take an antimalarial drug with serious side effects, including brain damage.

                  A class-action lawsuit brought on behalf of Canadian military veterans has been put on hold.

                  The former soldiers say they were required to take an antimalarial drug with serious side effects, including brain damage.

                  They blame the Canadian government for a lack of support.

                  Al Jazeera’s Daniel Lak reports from Ottawa, Canada.

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