ERBIL, Iraq/WASHINGTON (Reuters) – Iraqi Shi’ite militia fighters are tightening a noose around the Islamic State-held city of Falluja west of Baghdad as the first stage of a counter-offensive in the Sunni province of Anbar, likely to determine the course of the conflict in coming months.
Islamic State seized Anbar’s capital Ramadi two months ago, extending its control over the Euphrates river valley west of Baghdad and dealing a major setback to Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi and the U.S.-backed army he entrusted with its defense.
WASHINGTON (Reuters) – Russia presents the greatest threat to U.S. national security and its behavior is “nothing short of alarming,” Marine General Joseph Dunford told lawmakers on Thursday as they weighed his nomination to become chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff.
Dunford also added his voice to those Pentagon officials who have supported providing lethal arms to Ukraine to help it defend itself from Russia-backed separatists, a step that President Barack Obama has so far resisted.
WASHINGTON, July 9 (Reuters) – Russia presents the greatest
threat to U.S. national security and its behavior is “nothing
short of alarming,” Marine General Joseph Dunford told lawmakers
on Thursday as they weighed his nomination to become chairman of
the Joint Chiefs of Staff.
Dunford also added his voice to those Pentagon officials who
have supported providing lethal arms to Ukraine to help it
defend itself from Russia-backed separatists, a step that
President Barack Obama has so far resisted.
WASHINGTON (Reuters) – The United States was only training about 60 Syrian opposition fighters to battle Islamic State as of July 3, far below expectations, Defense Secretary Ash Carter told Congress on Tuesday, citing rigorous U.S. vetting of recruits.
The program, which launched in May in Jordan and Turkey, was designed to train as many as 5,400 fighters a year and seen as a test of President Barack Obama’s strategy of engaging local partners to combat extremists.
WASHINGTON (Reuters) – The United States is seeing signs that new efforts to draw Sunni tribesmen into Iraq’s battle against Islamic State may be taking root at a military base near the fallen capital of Sunni-dominated Anbar province, U.S. officials say.
A U.S. defense officials told Reuters the first group of 500 Sunni recruits would soon complete training at the Taqaddum military base near the city of Ramadi, making way for a second group of about 500 Sunnis who have agreed to participate.
BRUSSELS, June 25 (Reuters) – Russian President Vladimir
Putin is not done in eastern Ukraine, NATO’s top commander said
on Thursday, cautioning that Russia has been building up
supplies on its border with Ukraine and keeping its military
U.S. General Philip Breedlove, NATO’s supreme allied
commander, said the border between Ukraine and Russia was “wide
open,” allowing free movement of equipment and supplies.
BRUSSELS (Reuters) – NATO’s head warned on Thursday of a risk of a return to heavy fighting in Ukraine but said it would be unwise to declare a ceasefire agreement dead, despite repeated violations, because it remained the best hope for peace.
The Ukrainian military on Tuesday accused pro-Russian rebels of conducting long-range artillery attacks on villages in the east and said one of its serviceman was killed and 12 wounded in clashes in the previous 24 hours.
BRUSSELS (Reuters) – U.S. Defense Secretary Ash Carter urged NATO allies on Wednesday to strengthen their cyber defenses, a senior U.S. defense official said, citing an advanced threat from Russia.
Cyber vulnerabilities within NATO have come into focus following Russia’s annexation of Crimea last year, which raised concerns about unconventional warfare techniques that can range from use of unidentified troops to information campaigns.
TALLINN (Reuters) – The United States will pre-position tanks, artillery and other military equipment in eastern and central Europe, U.S. Defense Secretary Ash Carter announced on Tuesday, moving to reassure NATO allies unnerved by Russia’s intervention in Ukraine.
Carter, during a trip to Tallinn, said the Baltic states – Estonia, Lithuania, Latvia — as well as Bulgaria, Romania and Poland agreed to host elements of this equipment. Some of the equipment would also be located in Germany.
MUENSTER, Germany, June 22 (Reuters) – The United States
said on Monday it would contribute special operations forces,
intelligence and other high-end military assets to a new NATO
rapid response force that aims in part to deter any future
actions by Russia.
U.S. Defense Secretary Ash Carter made the announcement
during a trip to Germany, where he delivered an address accusing
Moscow of trying to re-create a Soviet-era sphere of influence.