Freelance British photojournalist, John Cantlie — abducted in 2012 along with U.S. journalist James Foley — appears in the Islamic State’s latest video as a foreign correspondent reporting from the Syrian town of Kobani, the New York Times reported. Continue reading
WASHINGTON — Despite years of diplomacy and a CIA operation to vet and train moderate rebels, the U.S. finds itself without a credible partner on the ground in Syria as it bombs the Islamic State group. That’s a potentially serious flaw in its strategy to ultimately defeat the militants.
WASHINGTON — It may be less punchy than previous nicknames for U.S. conflicts in the Middle East — remember Operation Desert Storm and its thunderous attacks on Saddam Hussein’s occupation army — but the Pentagon has finally named its fight against Islamic State militants in Iraq and Syria: Operation Inherent Resolve.
WASHINGTON — The Obama administration’s promise to limit U.S. military engagement against Islamic State militants makes it difficult to accept Turkey’s terms for joining the fight in neighboring Syria.
Turkey and other American allies want the U.S. to create a no-fly zone inside Syrian territory. Yet doing that would mean embracing one of two options President Barack Obama long has resisted: cooperating with Syrian President Bashar Assad’s government or taking out its air defenses, an action tantamount to war.
There are increasing demands for the creation of a secure buffer on the Syrian side of the border with Turkey. READ MORE
WASHINGTON — For months, Islamic State militants rampaged across Syria and Iraq, seizing cities, taking hostages and terrorizing all who dared to confront them.
The tide began to turn in mid-August, when U.S. airstrikes pushed them from key Iraqi battlegrounds. Then, on Aug. 19, the group released a video that showed the beheading of American freelance journalist James Foley.
The pattern continued.
Within days of a military defeat, the group would release images of more beheadings – at least nine over six weeks – of Western journalists, aid workers and Muslim soldiers.
The tactic signals that even as the Islamic State group suffers battlefield losses, it is holding on to its edge in the propaganda war. U.S. officials say that’s the only way the militants can continue to maintain support and attract new recruits. READ MORE
WASHINGTON — Nearly 2 out of 3 Americans back U.S. airstrikes in Iraq and Syria to combat the threat from Islamic extremists, yet half also think there’s a high risk of a future terrorist attack on American soil, according to an Associated Press-GfK poll. Continue reading
WASHINGTON — President Barack Obama announced in May 2013 that no lethal strike against a terrorist would be authorized without “near-certainty that no civilians will be killed or injured.”
But amid unconfirmed reports of civilian casualties, the White House said this week that U.S. bombing in Iraq and Syria is not being held to the near-certainty standard. And the Pentagon, hamstrung by limitations in intelligence gathering, has been unable to determine in many cases whether the casualty reports are true. Continue reading
WASHINGTON — President Barack Obama said in an interview airing Sunday that he agrees with intelligence leaders who believe the United States not only underestimated the threat of militants seeking to form the Islamic State group but also overestimated the ability and will of the Iraqi army to fight.
Obama spoke with CBS’ “60 Minutes.” The network released excerpts ahead of time. In the interview, Obama was asked how Islamic State group fighters were able to control so much land in Syria and Iraq. He said that during the war in Iraq, U.S. military forces with the help of Iraq’s Sunni tribes were able to quash al-Qaida fighters, who went “back underground.”
“During the chaos of the Syrian civil war, where essentially you have huge swaths of the country that are completely ungoverned, they were able to reconstitute themselves and take advantage of that chaos,” Obama said. READ MORE
The U.S. believes it has identified the British-accented masked man in the videos depicting the beheadings of two American journalists and a British aid worker, the FBI director says. Continue reading