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Dec 18, 2014

Spy freed from Cuban prison hailed as secret U.S. hero

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – President Barack Obama hailed him as one of the best spies America has ever had in Cuba, but precious little is known about the Cuban man freed in a prisoner swap on Wednesday after two decades of incarceration on the Communist island.

The U.S. government did not identify the man but credited him for providing information that helped authorities root out a network of spies working for Cuba in the United States, including two senior U.S. government officials.

Dec 17, 2014

Exclusive: As easy targets thin, Syria air strikes by U.S. allies plunge

WASHINGTON/DUBAI (Reuters) – As U.S. fighter jets pound Islamic State targets in Syria, Washington’s coalition allies appear increasingly absent from the air war.

Although President Barack Obama’s administration announced the Syrian air strikes three months ago as a joint campaign by Washington and its Arab allies, nearly 97 percent of the strikes in December have been carried out by the United States alone, according to U.S. military data provided to Reuters.

Dec 9, 2014

Iraq presses Hagel for more U.S. air strikes, weapons

BAGHDAD (Reuters) – Iraq’s Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi pressed outgoing U.S. Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel on Tuesday for more air strikes and weaponry to accelerate what he called the “descent” of Islamic State.

The plea underscored tension in the U.S.-Iraqi relationship, with Baghdad pushing for more aggressive assistance than Washington has provided so far, four months after President Barack Obama launched air strikes against IS in Iraq.

Dec 9, 2014

Hagel in Baghdad as U.S. sees momentum against Islamic State

BAGHDAD (Reuters) – U.S. Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel arrived in Baghdad on Tuesday as the United States expands its presence and touts progress against Islamic State militants four months after starting a campaign of air strikes in Iraq.

Hagel is the first U.S. secretary of defense to visit Iraq since President Barack Obama ordered American troops out of the country in 2011. Obama started ordering troops back to Iraq this summer, to help counter the advance of Islamic State.

Dec 9, 2014

Hagel arrives in Baghdad as U.S. touts momentum against Islamic State

BAGHDAD (Reuters) – U.S. Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel arrived in Baghdad on Tuesday as the United States expands its presence in the fight against Islamic State militants four months after starting a campaign of air strikes in Iraq.

Hagel is the first U.S. secretary of defense to visit Iraq since President Barack Obama ordered American troops out of the country in 2011. With the advance of Islamic State militants, Obama started ordering troops back to Iraq this summer.

Dec 8, 2014

U.S. allies to send about 1,500 troops to Iraq: commander

KUWAIT CITY (Reuters) – U.S. allies have committed to send about 1,500 forces to Iraq to help train and advise Iraqi and Kurdish soldiers battling the Islamic State, which increasingly appears on the defensive, the top U.S. commander guiding the coalition effort said on Monday.

Lieutenant General James Terry, commander of Operation Inherent Resolve targeting the militants in Iraq and Syria, said the forces would come on top of the up to 3,100 troops U.S. President Barack Obama has authorized to deploy to Iraq.

Dec 7, 2014

Despite failures, U.S. likely to continue raids to free hostages

WASHINGTON/KUWAIT CITY (Reuters) – Despite three failed raids to free U.S. hostages held by militants, the United States will continue to conduct such operations, officials indicated on Sunday, as President Barack Obama grapples with a spate of kidnappings and killings of American citizens.

The latest setback came in a remote area of Yemen early on Saturday, when al Qaeda militants shot American photo journalist Luke Somers and South African teacher Pierre Korkie during a rescue attempt led by U.S. Special Forces.

Dec 6, 2014

U.S. to keep more troops in Afghanistan as violence spikes

KABUL (Reuters) – The United States will keep up to 1,000 more soldiers than previously planned in Afghanistan into next year, outgoing U.S. Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel said on Saturday, in a recognition of the still formidable challenge from Taliban insurgents.

Hagel, officially confirming a change in the U.S. drawdown schedule first reported by Reuters, said the additional troops were a temporary measure and did not change the long term timeline for withdrawing troops.

Dec 6, 2014

Hagel, in Kabul, says Afghans to battle back Taliban threat

KABUL (Reuters) – Outgoing U.S. Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel expressed confidence in the ability of Afghan forces to defend Kabul following a spike in Taliban strikes as he arrived in the Afghan capital on Saturday for his final trip to Afghanistan as Pentagon chief.

Hagel’s unannounced visit came near the end of the bloodiest year in Afghanistan since the war against Taliban militants began in 2001, and after a particularly violent wave of attacks in the capital.

Dec 4, 2014

Warily, U.S. learns to live with more muscular Iran role in Iraq

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – The United States and Iran, which dueled viciously over Iraq during the years of U.S. occupation, suddenly seem to be working in tandem as they confront what both see as a common, even mortal enemy: Islamic State.

Air strikes by Iran inside Iraq in recent days are only the latest manifestation of an increasingly muscular role by Tehran in Baghdad’s war against Sunni militants. During the administration of George W. Bush, such actions would be denounced as meddling.

    • 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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