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Sep 16, 2014

U.S. says won’t unleash ‘shock and awe’ air campaign in Syria

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – The United States is not preparing to unleash a “shock and awe” campaign of overwhelming airstrikes in Syria against Islamic State fighters and instead envisions a more modest, longer-term campaign, Pentagon officials told Congress on Tuesday.

Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel said the military’s current plan would be outlined to President Barack Obama on Wednesday by the U.S. military’s Central Command and envisioned striking the group’s safe havens to knock out infrastructure, logistics and command capabilities.

Sep 8, 2014

Turkey to play role in fight against Islamic State

ANKARA (Reuters) – Turkey is seeking specific roles in a U.S.-led coalition to battle Islamic State fighters, U.S. Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel said after talks with Turkish leaders on Monday, without revealing details.

Turkey was the only Muslim nation in a “core coalition” of 10 countries which met on the sidelines of a NATO summit last week. Any role it plays may be limited by a host of concerns, including fears for 46 Turkish hostages held by the militants.

Sep 8, 2014

Hagel in Turkey to see how far it will go in U.S.-led coalition

ANKARA (Reuters) – U.S. Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel will sound out Turkish leaders on Monday on “how far they’re willing to go” in a U.S.-led coalition against Islamic State despite the militant group’s holding of Turkish hostages and domestic security fears, a U.S. official said.

Turkey was the only Muslim nation in a “core coalition” of 10 countries which met on the sidelines of a NATO summit in Newport, Wales last week. President Barack Obama said he would welcome Ankara’s cooperation after meeting Turkish President Tayyip Erdogan on Friday.

Sep 7, 2014

U.S. air strikes target insurgents near Iraq’s Haditha Dam

BAGHDAD (Reuters) – U.S. warplanes carried out four strikes on Islamic State insurgents menacing Iraq’s Haditha Dam on Sunday, witnesses and officials said, widening what President Barack Obama called a campaign to curb and ultimately defeat the jihadist movement.

Obama has branded Islamic State an acute threat to the West as well as Middle East and said that key NATO allies stand ready to back Washington in action against the well-armed sectarian force, which has seized expanses of northern Iraq and eastern Syria and declared a border-blurring religious caliphate.

Sep 7, 2014

U.S. moves to reassure Georgia as Ukraine crisis stokes unease

TBILISI (Reuters) – U.S. Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel vowed to help further strengthen Georgia’s military during a rare visit on Sunday to the former Soviet republic, which has watched Ukraine’s crisis with alarm after fighting its own brief war with Russia in 2008.

Georgia’s capital Tbilisi was Hagel’s first stop after the NATO summit in Wales, where Georgia was given an enhanced status that inched it closer to its goal of NATO membership — something fiercely opposed by Moscow.

Sep 6, 2014

U.S., Georgia to discuss Islamic State threat during Hagel visit

NEWPORT, Wales, Sept 6 (Reuters) – Georgia, one of the
United States’ key partners in Afghanistan, will discuss ways it
might be able to help in the battle against Islamic State
fighters during a visit by U.S. Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel
this weekend, its defense minister told Reuters.

The former Soviet state is doggedly pursuing NATO membership
fiercely opposed by Moscow, and is enthusiastically supporting
the alliance. That includes deployments of Georgian troops to
Afghanistan, even as the NATO-led combat mission grinds to a
halt this year and other nations withdraw.

Sep 5, 2014

Obama says key allies ready to join U.S. action in Iraq

NEWPORT Wales (Reuters) – President Barack Obama said key NATO allies stood ready to join the United States in military action to defeat Islamic State militants in Iraq as he vowed to ‘take out’ the leaders of a movement he said was a major threat to the West.

Obama said the Washington would hunt down and dismantle the organization, which has seized swathes of Iraq and Syria, in the same way it had tackled al Qaeda since the Sept. 11 attacks on the United States and was doing to al-Shabaab in Somalia.

Sep 5, 2014

U.S. says forms “core coalition” to counter Iraq militants

NEWPORT, Wales, Sept 5 (Reuters) – The United States said on
Friday it was forming a “core coalition” to battle Islamic State
militants in Iraq, calling for broad support from allies and
partners but ruling out committing ground forces.

President Barack Obama sought to use a NATO summit in Wales
to enlist allied support in fighting the Islamist militants, but
it is unclear how many nations might join the United States in
air strikes in Iraq.

Sep 4, 2014

Afghan candidates’ unity pledge eases NATO’s worries

NEWPORT, Wales/KABUL Sept 4 (Reuters) – Afghanistan’s rival
presidential candidates pledged to NATO leaders on Thursday that
they would form a government of national unity and sign legal
agreements allowing foreign troops to stay on next year.

The message to a NATO summit from Ashraf Ghani and Abdullah
Abdullah was meant to reassure allies concerned that a lengthy
deadlock over the disputed presidential election could force
NATO to pull all its troops out of Afghanistan this year.

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.

    • 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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