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Jul 1, 2014

Insight – How Boko Haram is beating U.S. efforts to choke its financing

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – When Washington imposed sanctions in June 2012 on Boko Haram leader Abubakar Shekau, he dismissed it as an empty gesture.

Two years later, Shekau’s scepticism appears well founded: his Islamic militant group is now the biggest security threat to Africa’s top oil producer, is richer than ever, more violent and its abductions of women and children continue with impunity.

Jun 30, 2014

U.S. sends 300 more troops to Iraq over security concerns

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – The United States is ramping up its military presence in Iraq, deploying around 300 additional troops as well as helicopters and drone aircraft in response security concerns in Baghdad, officials said on Monday.

The decision announced by the Pentagon puts U.S. military personnel in a security role at Baghdad International Airport in the face of advances by an al Qaeda splinter group, three years after America’s military withdrawal.

Jun 30, 2014

U.S. sends 300 more troops to Iraq, narrows options for second operations center

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – The United States is again ramping up its military presence in Iraq, sending around 300 additional troops into the country as well as a detachment of helicopters and drone aircraft, the Pentagon said on Monday.

Pentagon spokesman Rear Admiral John Kirby said about 200 forces arrived on Sunday in Iraq to reinforce security at the U.S. embassy, its support facilities and Baghdad International Airport. Another 100 personnel were also due to move to Baghdad to “provide security and logistics support.”

Jun 27, 2014

U.S. reduces Nigeria surveillance flights seeking abducted girls

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – The United States reduced its surveillance flights to help find more than 200 Nigerian schoolgirls abducted by Islamist militants after building a body of intelligence and after other states ramped up support, a U.S. official said.

Nigeria has committed itself to the hunt for the girls, who were kidnapped in April in one of the violent group’s most spectacular attacks, and received help from the United States and other countries, including its neighbors.

Jun 27, 2014

U.S. takes time to gather data before any attacks on ISIL in Iraq

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – U.S. intelligence about the Islamist insurgent offensive in Iraq is improving but it could take weeks to complete a detailed picture of the threat and any possible American air attacks do not appear imminent, U.S. officials said on Thursday.

Last week’s announcement that up to 300 U.S. military advisers were being sent to Baghdad and the earlier movement of an aircraft carrier, a cruiser and a destroyer into the Gulf prompted speculation of impending military action against Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) militants.

Jun 26, 2014

Benghazi suspect expected to arrive in U.S. this weekend: sources

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – A suspected leader of the 2012 attack on the U.S. compound in Benghazi, captured by U.S. forces and spirited out of Libya, is expected to arrive in the United States this weekend after his journey at sea, U.S. officials told Reuters on Thursday.

Libyan militant Ahmed Abu Khatallah was taken aboard the USS New York, an amphibious transport ship, after his seizure in a raid on the outskirts of Benghazi on June 15. He is expected to be prosecuted in the U.S. criminal justice system.

Jun 26, 2014

More U.S. forces arrive in Baghdad, two-star general leads effort

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – Another 50 U.S. special operations forces have arrived in Baghdad under the newly appointed command of a two-star general as the U.S. military steadily ramps up an advisory mission aimed at helping Iraq battle back Sunni militants, the Pentagon said on Thursday.

The Pentagon said the first of two planned Joint Operations Centers in Iraq had also become activated, bolstering its ability to oversee U.S. teams and gather information about the situation on the ground, including about Iraq’s security forces.

Jun 25, 2014

Bergdahl has not yet been asked why he left Afghan base: U.S. Army

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – U.S. Army Sergeant Bowe Bergdahl has made no admission of wrongdoing since being released by the Taliban last month, officials said on Wednesday, adding that he has yet to be asked the tough question of why he left base before his 2009 capture.

Army officials said the two-star general investigating Bergdahl’s disappearance in Afghanistan will seek to bring up that subject with the soldier sometime after his outpatient treatment in Texas is finished in about two weeks and before the expected completion of the Army’s probe in mid-August.

Jun 23, 2014

U.S. says its forces get immunity guarantees from Iraq

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – Iraq has given assurances to the United States that U.S. special operations forces that President Barack Obama has ordered into the country will be shielded from possible prosecution in Iraqi courts, U.S. officials said on Monday.

With the agreement, Washington has overcome a major hurdle as it rushes to bolster the U.S. presence in Iraq in the face of militant advances by Sunni Islamists from the Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant, or ISIL, an al Qaeda splinter group.

Jun 20, 2014

U.S. seeks Iraqi legal safeguards for military advisers

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – The United States expressed confidence on Friday it would secure legal safeguards for U.S. forces arriving in Iraq over the next week to shield them from the possibility of prosecution in Iraqi courts, despite America’s inability do so three years ago.

President Barack Obama announced on Thursday he will deploy up to 300 military advisers to Iraq in the face of advances by an al Qaeda splinter group and would consider targeted strikes against insurgents.

    • 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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