Pentagon Correspondent
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Aug 28, 2014

U.S. air strikes on Syria would face formidable obstacles

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – American forces face formidable challenges as President Barack Obama considers an air assault on Islamist fighters in Syria, including intelligence gaps on potential targets, concerns about Syria’s air defenses and fears that the militants may have anti-aircraft weapons, current and former U.S. officials say.

The Pentagon began preparing options for an assault on Islamic State fighters after the militants last week posted a gruesome video showing the beheading of American photojournalist James Foley. Deliberations by Obama’s national security team on expanding the campaign against Islamic State from Iraq into neighboring Syria gathered pace in recent days, officials say.

Aug 26, 2014

Obama says ‘justice will be done’ for Islamic State killers

/WASHINGTON (Reuters) – President Barack Obama vowed “justice will be done” against the Islamic State killers of American journalist James Foley on Tuesday as the United States sought to identify targets for potential airstrikes in Syria.

Obama’s tough talk followed his decision to approve U.S. surveillance flights to gather intelligence on Islamic State units in Syria should he decide to order airstrikes in the country, which has been embroiled in a three-year civil war.

Aug 25, 2014

U.S., Chinese officials to meet at Pentagon after jet intercept

WASHINGTON, Aug 25 (Reuters) – U.S. and Chinese military
officials will hold talks on rules of behavior at the Pentagon
on Wednesday and Thursday, a U.S. official said, days after the
United States denounced a “dangerous” Chinese jet intercept of a
U.S. Navy patrol plane.

Last Tuesday, a Chinese fighter pilot flew acrobatic
maneuvers around the U.S. Navy’s P-8 Poseidon anti-submarine and
reconnaissance plane, crossing over and under it in
international airspace over the South China Sea, the Pentagon
said.

Aug 7, 2014

U.S. weighing airstrikes to stem Iraqi Islamist offensive

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – U.S. President Barack Obama is considering airstrikes in northern Iraq in response to advances by Islamic State militants and the ensuing humanitarian crisis, a U.S. military official said on Thursday.

The official, speaking on condition of anonymity, was commenting on a report in The New York Times that Obama was weighing either air strikes or humanitarian airdrops to help 40,000 religious minorities trapped on an Iraqi mountaintop under threat from the militants.

Aug 7, 2014

Exclusive: U.S. to spend up to $550 million on African rapid response forces

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – The United States announced on Wednesday plans to spend $110 million a year over the next three to five years to help African nations develop peacekeeping forces that can be rapidly deployed to head off militant threats and other crises.

President Barack Obama unveiled the program during the third day of a summit of African heads of state in Washington, along with another U.S. plan to spend an initial $65 million to bolster security institutions in Ghana, Kenya, Mali, Niger, Nigeria and Tunisia, the official said.

Aug 6, 2014

U.S. to spend up to $550 million on African rapid response forces

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – The United States will announce on Wednesday plans to spend $110 million a year over the next three to five years to help African nations develop peacekeeping forces that can be rapidly deployed to head off militant threats and other crises, an Obama administration official told Reuters.

President Barack Obama is expected to unveil the program during the third day of a summit of African heads of state in Washington, along with another U.S. plan to spend an initial $65 million to bolster security institutions in Ghana, Kenya, Mali, Niger, Nigeria and Tunisia, the official said.

Aug 6, 2014

Somalia’s president expects new military push to begin in days

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – Somalia’s President Hassan Sheikh Mohamud told Reuters on Tuesday he expected a new military drive by African Union and Somali forces to start in the next few days to push al Shabaab militants from more territory.

Al Shabaab ruled most of the southern region of Somalia from 2006 until 2011 when African forces drove them out of Mogadishu and then expelled them from most urban centers in a nation that has faced war and turmoil for more than two decades.

Aug 5, 2014

U.S., South Sudan prod rebels as peace efforts sputter

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – South Sudan’s President Salva Kiir and U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry both prodded rebels in the African country to engage in sputtering peace efforts on Tuesday after mediators said they failed to show up for the latest round of talks.

At least 10,000 people have been killed since fierce fighting erupted in the capital, Juba, in December pitting Kiir’s government forces against supporters of Riek Machar, his former deputy and longtime political rival.

Jul 31, 2014

U.S. defends supplying Israel ammunition during Gaza conflict

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – The United States on Thursday called on Israel to do more to protect civilians in its military offensive in Gaza and condemned an Israeli strike on a U.N.-run school, even as it defended moves to resupply its close ally with ammunition.

The White House reiterated its position that it was Israel’s right to defend itself and described the resupply of ammunition disclosed as the fighting raged this week as “routine.”

Jul 25, 2014

U.S. tells Pakistan: Do not let Haqqani fighters resettle

ASPEN Colorado (Reuters) – The U.S. government urged Pakistan on Friday to prevent displaced Haqqani militants from returning to their traditional sanctuary after a Pakistani military offensive near the Afghanistan border.

The Haqqani network, which mainly operates out of Pakistan’s border areas, has been blamed for some of the deadliest and most sophisticated attacks on NATO and Afghan troops in Afghanistan.

    • About Phil

      "Phil Stewart has worked for Reuters since 1998 and reported from more than 30 countries, including Afghanistan, Iraq, Pakistan, Russia, Saudi Arabia, China and Egypt. Before becoming a Washington D.C.-based military affairs and intelligence reporter, Phil covered terrorism, foreign affairs and the Vatican from Rome from 2004 until mid-2009. He has also previously been based in Colombia and Brazil as a foreign correspondent. Before joining Reuters, Phil covered U.S. politics out of Washington D.C. for States News Service. He earned his BS in international relations from Georgetown University's School of Foreign Service. He speaks English, Spanish, Portuguese and Italian. ..."
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