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Nov 4, 2015

U.S. eyes more arms for Syria rebels after latest advance

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – The U.S. military said on Wednesday it was moving toward providing additional weaponry to Syrian opposition forces battling Islamic State after territorial gains in the past week by the U.S.-backed fighters.

Colonel Steve Warren, a Baghdad-based spokesman for the U.S.-led coalition against Islamic State, told reporters the Democratic Forces of Syria had taken back about 255 square kilometers from Islamic State around the village of al-Haul.

Nov 3, 2015

US, Russia aircraft test safety protocols in skies over Syria

WASHINGTON/MOSCOW (Reuters) – A U.S. fighter jet and a Russian fighter jet flew within 5 miles (8 km) of each other in the skies over Syria on Tuesday, in a planned test of new safety protocols aimed at avoiding an accidental clash between the former Cold War foes.

The United States, which opposes Russia’s backing of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad, has sharply criticized Russia’s more than month-long campaign of air strikes and has ruled out any military coordination with Moscow.

Oct 31, 2015

With Syria escalation, Obama may win leverage on and off battlefield

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – President Barack Obama’s decision to send special operations forces to Syria is a calculated military escalation that could increase U.S. leverage, both on and off the battlefield, say current and former U.S. officials.

The policy shift coincides with an expanding clandestine CIA program that channels weapons to opponents of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad and a new diplomatic push led by Secretary of State John Kerry to find a political solution to the conflict.

Oct 28, 2015

Runaway U.S. military blimp wreaks havoc in Pennsylvania

WASHINGTON, Oct 28 (Reuters) – A high-tech U.S. military
blimp designed to detect a missile attack came loose on
Wednesday and wreaked havoc as it floated from Maryland into
Pennsylvania, dragging more than a mile of cable and knocking
out power to thousands.

The U.S. military scrambled two armed F-16 fighter jets to
keep watch as the massive blimp traveled into civilian airspace
after coming untethered from its base at Aberdeen Proving
Ground, a U.S. Army facility 40 miles (64 km) northeast of
Baltimore.

Oct 28, 2015

U.S. weighs special forces in Syria, helicopters in Iraq

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – The United States is considering sending a small number of special operations forces to Syria and attack helicopters to Iraq as it weighs options to build momentum in the battle against Islamic State, U.S. officials said on Tuesday.

President Barack Obama, deeply averse to over-committing American troops to unpopular wars in the Middle East, could view some of the options as more viable than others as he approaches the final stretch of his presidency.

Oct 23, 2015

U.S commando killed in raid to free hostages of ISIS in Iraq

WASHINGTON/ERBIL, Iraq (Reuters) – One member of a U.S. special operations force was killed during an overnight mission to rescue hostages held by Islamic State militants in northern Iraq, the first American to die in ground combat with the militant group, U.S. officials said on Thursday.

Sixty-nine hostages were rescued in the action, which targeted an Islamic State prison around 7 kilometers north of the town of Hawija, according to the security council of the Kurdistan region, whose counterterrorism forces took part.

Oct 22, 2015

U.S. soldier killed in raid to free hostages of ISIS in Iraq

WASHINGTON/ERBIL, Iraq (Reuters) – One member of a U.S. special operations force was killed during an overnight mission to rescue hostages held by Islamic State militants in northern Iraq, the first American to die in ground combat with the militant group, U.S. officials said on Thursday.

Sixty-nine hostages were rescued in the action, which targeted an Islamic State prison around 7 kilometers north of the town of Hawija, according to the security council of the Kurdistan region, whose counterterrorism forces took part.

Oct 21, 2015

Top U.S. general seeks momentum in Iraq, bucks ‘stalemate’ label

BAGHDAD (Reuters) – U.S. Marine General Joseph Dunford, who took over this month as America’s top military officer, pledged on Tuesday to seek new ways to build momentum in Iraq’s battle against Islamic State and bucked descriptions of the conflict as a “stalemate.”

Emerging from his first trip to Iraq as chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, Dunford said he was encouraged by the latest battlefield gains, including an advance to secure most of the strategic Baiji oil refinery.

Oct 21, 2015

U.S. general wins assurance Iraq will not seek Russia air strikes

BAGHDAD (Reuters) – The United States won assurances from Iraq on Tuesday that it would not seek Russian air strikes against Islamic State, America’s top general said, adding he warned Baghdad that a Russian air role would impede the U.S.-led campaign.

Russia’s new military intervention in Iraq’s neighbor Syria has seen the former Cold War foes carrying out rival campaigns of air strikes there and has triggered questions about whether Russia might extend its campaign to Iraq.

Oct 20, 2015

Top U.S. general plays down chances of Russian air campaign in Iraq

BAGHDAD (Reuters) – U.S. Marine General Joseph Dunford played down the chances of Russia waging an air campaign against Islamic State in Iraq in the near future as he made his first trip to Iraq as the top U.S. military official.

Russia’s military intervention in Syria and its participation in a new Baghdad-based intelligence-sharing cell with Iran, Syria and Iraq has raised concerns in Washington that its Cold War rival is gaining influence in the Middle East.

    • 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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