WASHINGTON (Reuters) – The United States said on Wednesday it was clear that Syrian President Bashar al-Assad was losing control of his country and it urged the international community to get behind a political transition plan to avert a looming sectarian civil war.
The White House, reacting after a Damascus bomb blast that killed Syria’s defence minister and Assad’s brother-in-law, said the 16-month old Syrian rebellion was gaining momentum and the country’s fractured opposition was both strengthening and unifying.
WASHINGTON (Reuters) – U.S. Defense Secretary Leon Panetta said on Wednesday the situation in Syria appeared to be “spinning out of control” as he and his British counterpart warned that the Syrian regime would be held responsible for securing its chemical weapons.
“This is a situation that is rapidly spinning out of control,” Panetta said, adding that the international community needed to “bring maximum pressure on (President Bashar al-Assad) to do what’s right, to step down and allow for that peaceful transition.”
DUBAI/WASHINGTON (Reuters) – One person was killed and three others injured on Monday when a U.S. Navy ship fired at an approaching fishing boat off the United Arab Emirates, but officials did not immediately blame terrorism or cite an Iran-link to the still-murky incident.
Why the boat approached the U.S. refuel ling ship, the USNS Rappahannock, was still unclear, U.S. officials said. But the U.S. Navy said the small motor boat ignored repeated warnings to halt its approach before a security team fired rounds from a .50-caliber machine gun.
WASHINGTON (Reuters) – U.S. intelligence and defense officials have been ordered to preserve documents and emails that could be relevant to national security leak investigations being pursued by federal prosecutors, Obama administration officials said on Tuesday.
A U.S. defense official said the order to Defense Department personnel applies to any documentation – emails, faxes and paper documents – that might be relevant to investigators.
WASHINGTON June 26 (Reuters) – U.S. intelligence and defense
officials have been ordered to preserve documents and emails
that could be relevant to national security leak investigations
being pursued by federal prosecutors, Obama administration
officials said on Tuesday.
A U.S. defense official said the order to Defense Department
personnel applies to any documentation – emails, faxes and paper
documents – that might be relevant to investigators.
WASHINGTON (Reuters) – Iraq has given the United States assurances it will not release a suspected Hezbollah operative accused of killing American troops, Defense Secretary Leon Panetta told Reuters, saying he expected Baghdad to honor its commitment.
The fate of Ali Mussa Daqduq has been vexing U.S. officials since last December, when the United States was forced to hand him over to Baghdad after failing to secure a custody deal before the U.S. military withdrawal from the country.
WASHINGTON (Reuters) – Defense Secretary Leon Panetta all but ruled out an apology over an air strike last year that killed 24 Pakistani soldiers and badly set back efforts to improve U.S.-Pakistani ties, saying it was “time to move on.”
Pakistan banned trucks from carrying NATO supplies into neighboring Afghanistan after the air strike, a move that costs U.S. taxpayers $100 million a month given the need to use more expensive, longer routes to the north.
WASHINGTON (Reuters) – Nearly one year ago, U.S. Defense Secretary Leon Panetta predicted the strategic defeat of al Qaeda was within reach if the United States could kill or capture up to 20 leaders of the core group and its affiliates.
In an interview on Thursday with Reuters, Panetta disclosed that only a “small handful” of the individuals on that original list remained on the battlefield and that Saudi Arabia – the birthplace of late al Qaeda leader Osama bin Laden – was reporting a drop-off in recruitment.
WASHINGTON (Reuters) – Defense Secretary Leon Panetta defended the Obama administration’s decision not to arm the Syrian opposition, saying the country risked being pushed into an all-out civil war if efforts to secure a smooth political transition fail.
“We made a decision not to provide lethal assistance at this point. I know others have made their own decisions,” Panetta said in an interview on Thursday.
JEDDAH (Reuters) – U.S. security chiefs visited Saudi Arabia on Wednesday to convey President Barack Obama’s condolences for the death of Crown Prince Nayef, underscoring the importance of a relationship seen as key in the battle against al Qaeda.
The delegation was led by Defense Secretary Leon Panetta and included Federal Bureau of Investigation director Robert Mueller, Assistant to the President for Homeland Security, Counter-terrorism John Brennan and former Central Intelligence Agency director George Tenet.