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Aug 3, 2015

First U.S.-trained Syria rebel believed killed in fighting – sources

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – A member of a new Syrian force trained by the U.S. military was believed to have been killed in clashes last week with al Qaeda’s Syria wing, in what would be the fledgling force’s first battlefield casualty, U.S. officials said in an interview on Monday.

The U.S. officials, who spoke on condition of anonymity to discuss the incident, said the Syrian rebel was believed to have been killed during fighting on Friday with suspected members of Nusra Front. One of the officials described the information as preliminary.

Aug 3, 2015

U.S. to defend Syrian rebels with airpower, including from Assad

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – The United States has decided to allow airstrikes to defend Syrian rebels trained by the U.S. military from any attackers, even if the enemies hail from forces loyal to Syrian President Bashar al-Assad, U.S. officials said on Sunday.

The decision by President Barack Obama, which could deepen the U.S. role in Syria’s conflict, aims to shield a still-fledging group of Syrian fighters armed and trained by the United States to battle Islamic State militants — not forces loyal to Assad.

Jul 28, 2015

U.S., Turkey weigh which Syrian rebels to support in border area

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – The United States and Turkey have not yet agreed which Syrian opposition fighters they will support in a joint effort to help clear Islamic State from an area along the Turkish border, officials said on Tuesday, underscoring uncertainty surrounding the campaign plan.

Washington and Ankara this week announced their intention to provide air cover for Syrian rebels and jointly sweep Islamic State fighters from a strip of land along the border, with U.S. warplanes using bases in Turkey for strikes.

Jul 27, 2015

Turkey, U.S. aim for safe zone cleared of Islamic State in northern Syria

ISTANBUL/WASHINGTON (Reuters) – Turkey and the United States are working on plans to provide air cover for Syrian rebels and jointly sweep Islamic State fighters from a strip of land along the Turkish border, bolstering the NATO member’s security and providing a safe haven for civilians.

Long a reluctant member of the U.S.-led coalition against Islamic State, Turkey last week made a dramatic turnaround by granting the alliance access to its air bases and bombarding targets in Syria linked to the jihadist movement.

Jul 24, 2015

Pentagon chief flies into Iraqi Kurdistan, to meet Barzani

ERBIL, Iraq (Reuters) – U.S. Defense Secretary Ash Carter arrived on an unannounced visit on Friday to Erbil, capital of Iraq’s Kurdistan region whose forces have emerged as one of America’s strongest partners in the fight against Islamic State.

Carter was expected to meet the Kurdistan region’s President Massoud Barzani as well as U.S. forces advising and training the Kurdish region’s security forces, known as peshmerga.

Jul 23, 2015

U.S. defense chief makes surprise trip to Iraq

BAGHDAD (Reuters) – U.S. Defense Secretary Ash Carter made a surprise visit to Baghdad on Thursday to get a first-hand assessment of the campaign against Islamic State as Iraq tries to retake the fallen capital of Sunni-dominated Anbar province.

Carter, on his first visit since becoming defense secretary in February, said he would meet U.S. commanders as well as Iraqi political leaders, including Prime Minister Haider

Jul 22, 2015

Pentagon chief tells Saudi Arabia: Iran threat is shared concern

JEDDAH (Reuters) – U.S. Defense Secretary Ash Carter said after talks in Saudi Arabia that Iran’s “potential for aggression” was a shared concern as he moved to bolster defense ties with Riyadh following a nuclear agreement with its arch-foe.

The conservative, mainly Sunni Muslim kingdom is engaged in a contest for power with Shi’ite Iran stretching across the region. It fears the nuclear deal will free Tehran from international pressure and sanctions, giving it more room to back allies in conflicts from Syria to Yemen.

Jul 22, 2015

U.S. defense chief in Saudi Arabia to reassure after Iran deal

JEDDAH (Reuters) – U.S. Defense Secretary Ash Carter flew into Saudi Arabia for meetings on Wednesday with King Salman and his security leadership to reassure the kingdom of America’s support after Washington struck a nuclear deal with its arch-rival Iran.

Carter said ahead of his trip that he aimed to discuss American strategy to counter “Iranian aggression” in the region, as well as the fight against Islamic State.

Jul 21, 2015

After Israel talks, Pentagon chief says: ‘Friends can disagree’

JERUSALEM (Reuters) – U.S. Defense Secretary Ash Carter never expected to win over Israel’s Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu about the merits of the nuclear agreement with Iran but tried to put a brave face on their sometimes blunt, closed-door exchange on Tuesday.

“We don’t agree on everything. And the prime minister made it quite clear that he disagreed with us on with respect to the nuclear deal,” Carter said at an airbase in Jordan.

Jul 21, 2015

After Israel talks, Pentagon chief says: “Friends can disagree”

JERUSALEM, July 21 (Reuters) – U.S. Defense Secretary Ash
Carter never expected to win over Israel’s Prime Minister
Benjamin Netanyahu about the merits of the nuclear agreement
with Iran but tried to put a brave face on their sometimes
blunt, closed-door exchange on Tuesday.

“We don’t agree on everything. And the prime minister made
it quite clear that he disagreed with us on with respect to the
nuclear deal,” Carter said at an airbase in Jordan.

    • 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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