WASHINGTON (Reuters) – The U.S. military said on Tuesday it had received 18 complaints of civilian casualties in air strikes against Islamic State militants in Iraq and Syria, but concluded that 13 of the cases were not credible and was still reviewing the other five.
The Pentagon has said it takes allegations of civilian casualties seriously and investigates them, but in the past military officials had played down such reports.
WASHINGTON (Reuters) – The U.S. military has made progress in its effort to identify moderate Syrian rebels to train for the fight against Islamic State militants and a U.S. training mission could begin this spring, the Pentagon said on Tuesday.
Rear Admiral John Kirby, the Pentagon press secretary, welcomed statements from Ankara indicating Turkey and the United States plan to conclude a deal this month on training and equipping moderate Syrian rebels, part of a U.S.-led campaign to counter Islamic State forces in Iraq and Syria.
WASHINGTON (Reuters) – U.S. troops have started training Iraqi military forces at two bases in Iraq as they work to build a force that can take the offensive against Islamic State militants who overran part of the country last year, the Pentagon said on Monday.
About 320 U.S. Marines are training members of the Iraqi 7th Division at Ain al-Asad air base in western al Anbar province, which is taking regular harassing mortar fire from Islamic State militants, said Army Colonel Steve Warren, a Pentagon spokesman. The training began on Dec. 20.
WASHINGTON (Reuters) – An unmanned U.S. aircraft that unleashed Hellfire missiles at a vehicle in Somalia earlier this week killed a leader of the al Shabaab militant group, dealing a setback to its ability to carry out anti-government attacks, the Pentagon said on Wednesday.
Rear Admiral John Kirby, the Pentagon press secretary, said in a note on Twitter the department could now “confirm that Tahliil Abdishakur, chief of al Shabaab’s intelligence and security wing, was killed in a U.S. air strike in Somalia on 29 December.”
WASHINGTON (Reuters) – The Pentagon is scrambling to assess the impact of Congress’ decision last week to approve only a third of the requested funding on the U.S. counterterrorism fight in Syria and Africa, the department’s budget chief said on Monday.
An appropriations bill approved on Saturday contained $1.3 billion of the $4 billion President Barack Obama sought for a new Counterterrorism Partnership Fund to counter al Qaeda affiliates in Africa and train Syrian moderates to fight Islamic State rebels.
WASHINGTON (Reuters) – The U.S. Congress approved an annual defense policy bill on Friday that authorizes American training for Iraqi and Syrian forces fighting Islamic State rebels and sets overall defense spending at $577 billion, including $64 billion for wars abroad.
The Senate passed the legislation and sent it to President Barack Obama to sign into law. The House of Representatives last week endorsed the measure, which sets defense policy and authorizes spending levels for the 2015 fiscal year, which began on Oct. 1, but does not actually appropriate funding.
WASHINGTON (Reuters) – A laser weapon deployed aboard the USS Ponce in the Gulf has performed beyond expectations in four months of operational testing, the chief of Navy research said on Wednesday, lifting hopes for a new U.S. defense against cheap anti-ship arms.
Rear Admiral Matthew Klunder, head of the Office of Naval Research, said the $40 million laser weapon was fully integrated into systems aboard the USS Ponce at the end of the summer for a year of testing.
WASHINGTON (Reuters) – U.S. lawmakers voiced deep skepticism on Wednesday about President Barack Obama’s handling of the war against Islamic State rebels in Iraq and Syria, charging that his response had been slow and “dithering” and warning the strategy did not match the threat.
Ambassador Brett McGurk, the deputy presidential envoy for countering Islamic State, told lawmakers the administration was making progress in the effort to destroy Islamic State, defeat al Qaeda and encourage the departure of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad.
WASHINGTON (Reuters) – Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel said on Thursday his resignation last week was not prompted by “major differences” with President Barack Obama, pushing back against statements that he had been fired or quit due to White House micromanagement.
Hagel, speaking publicly for the first time about his Nov. 24 resignation, said he decided to step down after several conversations with the president led him to conclude that now was the best timing for a Pentagon leadership change.
WASHINGTON (Reuters) – Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel unveiled four new initiatives to combat sexual assault in the U.S. military on Thursday as the Pentagon released a preliminary report for 2014 showing signs of improvement after a three-year crackdown on the crime.
The report found a drop in overall cases of sexual assault and a greater willingness by troops to report assaults to authorities. But it also voiced concern that more than 60 percent of sexual assault victims believe they have been subjected to retaliation for reporting the crime.