WASHINGTON (AP) — Even as Islamic State militants are losing the last of their territory in Syria, the militants who remain are unbroken and radicalized, and represent a "serious generational...
The Latest: General says militant group’s hold near collapse
WASHINGTON (AP) — The Latest on President Donald Trump and Syria (all times local):
The top commander of U.S. forces in the Middle East says the Islamic State group's territorial hold in Syria and Iraq is on the verge of collapse.
Gen. Joseph Votel, the head of Central Command, made the assertion in a written statement to the Senate Armed Services Committee. He was testifying Tuesday before the committee on the situation throughout his area of responsibility.
Iran small boats shadow US ship carrying top US commander
ABOARD THE USS ESSEX, Persian Gulf (AP) — Soon after the top U.S. commander in the Middle East boarded the USS Essex in the Persian Gulf, he could see one Iranian fast boat race across in front of the ship, while another shadowed it from the side.
US general visits troops fighting Islamic State in Syria
AL-TANF, Syria (AP) — The top U.S. commander for the Middle East made an unannounced visit Monday to a key military outpost in southern Syria, pressing the need for a continued U.S. presence there to root out remaining Islamic State fighters and serve as leverage against growing Iranian activity in the region.
Coalition airstrike targets mosque used by Islamic State
AL-UDEID AIR BASE, Qatar (AP) — An airstrike by the U.S.-led coalition fighting the Islamic State group targeted a mosque in Syria last week because it was determined to be an insurgent command-and-control center, the U.S. said Sunday.
The coalition said in a statement that while the law of war protects mosques, the use of the building as a headquarters by IS caused it to lose that protected status. It said a dozen fighters were killed.
US, Turkey to soon begin joint patrols in north Syria
AL-UDEID AIR BASE, Qatar (AP) — Turkish and American troops could begin conducting joint patrols in a matter of days around the northern Syrian city of Manbij within the coming days, the top U.S. commander for the Middle East said Sunday.
Army Gen. Joseph Votel, head of U.S. Central Command, told reporters traveling with him that the soldiers' training is expected to last "several more days," and then will transition to combined patrols.
US commander confident in ability of Afghan security forces
WASHINGTON (AP) — The assassination of Afghan leaders in Kandahar province won't lessen U.S. support for the war in Afghanistan or deter local security forces in the fight against the Taliban, the top U.S. military commander in the Middle East said Saturday.
Gen. Joseph Votel said the U.S. was "pretty confident that the Afghans will be able to maintain the situation down" in Kandahar.
American general says Afghan battlefield losses are rising
WASHINGTON (AP) — Afghan military and police forces had higher numbers of battlefield casualties in a "difficult and bloody summer" of fighting the Taliban insurgency, the American general overseeing the war said Thursday.
Marine general nominated to lead Central Command
WASHINGTON (AP) — The Pentagon says President Donald Trump has nominated Marine Lt. Gen. Kenneth F. McKenzie Jr. for promotion to four-star rank and appointment as the next commander of Central Command.
McKenzie currently is director of the staff that supports the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff. If confirmed by the Senate, he would succeed Army Gen. Joseph Votel, who has led Central Command since March 2016.
WASHINGTON (AP) — An Iranian naval exercise involving at least 100 small boats in and around the Strait of Hormuz last week was meant as a message to the U.S. for re-imposing economic sanctions on Tehran, the top U.S. commander in the Middle East said Wednesday.
Gen. Joseph Votel, head of U.S. Central Command, told Pentagon reporters that Iran was showcasing its military capabilities, amid recent threats by Iranian President Hassan Rouhani to close off the strait.
WASHINGTON (AP) — A year after the Trump administration unveiled a broad new strategy for the 17-year war in Afghanistan, the top U.S. commander in the Middle East said he doesn't expect any major change in the strategy to end the conflict as a new general takes over the campaign.
WASHINGTON (AP) — The general overseeing U.S. military operations in Afghanistan said Thursday he is taking a fresh look at the war strategy President Donald Trump announced nearly a year ago.
Gen. Joseph Votel said his assessment is designed to consider adjustments that could improve prospects for achieving the goal of Afghan government peace negotiations with the Taliban.
WASHINGTON (AP) — The commander of U.S. forces in the Middle East said Thursday he has received no new guidance from the Pentagon on cooperating with Russia in Syria following a U.S.-Russia summit that Moscow says focused heavily on Syria.
Army Gen. Joseph Votel, the head of U.S. Central Command, told reporters he's taking a "steady-as-she-goes" approach in Syria in the absence of new instructions. He said the mission remains to defeat the Islamic State group.
WASHINGTON (AP) — There are ongoing U.S. efforts to improve Syrian rebels' ability to detain what has become a steadily growing number of foreign fighters in Syria, the top U.S. commander in the Middle East told Congress on Tuesday.
Army Gen. Joseph Votel, the head of U.S. Central Command, told members of the Senate Armed Services Committee that the U.S.-backed Syrian Democratic Forces currently hold more than 400 detainees.
Russia is either unwilling or unable to halt the violence in Syria's bloody civil war, the top U.S. military commander in the Middle East told Congress on Tuesday, warning that Moscow's support of the Syrian military's recent bombardment of rebel-held areas has pushed a peace deal further beyond reach.
US general: Russia is both ‘arsonist and fireman’ in Syria
WASHINGTON (AP) — Russia is seeking to counter U.S. diplomatic influence by stoking conflict in Syria even as it portrays itself as an arbiter in the civil war, the top American general in the Middle East said Tuesday in notably pointed criticism of Moscow.
Iranian investment into proxy forces accelerates in wake of nuke deal, says top U.S. commander
Iran's investment in arming, training and equipping proxy forces across the Middle East accelerated significantly in the years following the Obama administration's landmark nuclear deal with Tehran, the top U.S. commander in the region told Congress.
Jordan marks handover of 12 US Black Hawk helicopters
ZARQA, Jordan (AP) — Jordan has marked the U.S. delivery of 12 Black Hawk helicopters over the past nine months with a military ceremony, including a hostage rescue drill and a flyover.
The helicopters are meant to help secure the borders of Jordan against external threats, including from Islamic State extremists in neighboring Syria and Iraq.
IS militants have been pushed back from large swaths of territory by a U.S.-led military coalition in which Jordan plays a key role.
Pakistan army chief: US general called, offered assurances
ISLAMABAD (AP) — Head of U.S. Central Command Gen. Joseph Votel spoke by phone with Pakistan's army chief offering assurances that the United States will not unilaterally strike targets inside Pakistan, a spokesman for Pakistan's military said on Friday.
In a statement, spokesman Maj. Gen. Asif Ghafoor said that Votel in his call to Gen. Qamer Javed Bajwa reiterated Washington's concern about Afghans using Pakistan as a staging ground for attacks inside Afghanistan.
US military probes video of possible shots at civilian truck
WASHINGTON (AP) — The U.S. military said Thursday that it is investigating a video posted on the internet showing what appears to be a U.S. service member shooting at a civilian truck while driving in Afghanistan.
A U.S. official said the weapons and equipment in the YouTube video suggest it could involve U.S. special operations forces and was likely taken last March. The official spoke anonymously to discuss details of the ongoing investigation.
WASHINGTON - The top American commander for the Middle East wants a more aggressive Afghan military pressuring Taliban and other insurgents over the normally quieter months of Afghanistan's winter, and then quickly going on the offensive in the spring. It's all part of a plan the United States hopes will change the course of a war now entering its 17th year.
Top US commander wants more aggressive Afghan push this year
WASHINGTON (AP) — The top American commander for the Middle East wants a more aggressive Afghan military pressuring Taliban and other insurgents over the normally quieter months of Afghanistan's winter, and then quickly going on the offensive in the spring. It's all part of a plan the United States hopes will change the course of a war now entering its 17th year.
US ups border training in Syria to prevent IS resurgence
WASHINGTON (AP) — The United States is developing an expanded training program for local Kurdish and Arab border guards in Syria, the top U.S. commander for the Middle East said, to help head off the "significant risk" of Islamic State fighters regrouping in the country. It's an effort that could entail a longer term American and allied commitment.
US announces new assistance to Lebanese military
BEIRUT (AP) — The United States has announced new assistance to the Lebanese military including helicopters and other advanced military equipment.
The new assistance package was disclosed during a visit by the head of U.S. Central Command Gen. Joseph Votel to Lebanon on Wednesday during which he met with the army chief and Prime Minister Saad Hariri.
Votel: More US advisers will help break Afghan war stalemate
TAMPA, Fla. (AP) — U.S. military troops in Afghanistan have begun working with smaller Afghan units to prepare them for a more aggressive offensive against the Taliban next year in a push to break the stalemate in the 16-year-old war, the top U.S. commander for the Middle East said Thursday.
While acknowledging there is still much more to be done, Army Gen. Joseph Votel sounded a more optimistic tone, saying he is seeing some positive trends in the Afghan's fight.
US commander visits Yemen border for firsthand look at war
RIYADH, Saudi Arabia (AP) — The top U.S. commander for the Middle East got a first-hand look on Wednesday at Saudi Arabia's military fight against Yemen's rebels, visiting the border area on the same day the Saudi-led coalition was accused of bombing a hotel and killing civilians.
The Latest: Tillerson raises prospect of punishing Pakistan
WASHINGTON (AP) — The Latest on President Donald Trump and US policy in Afghanistan (all times local):
Secretary of State Rex Tillerson says the U.S. could consider punishing Pakistan or cutting off its status as a major non-NATO ally if Pakistan doesn't crack down on the Taliban and other extremist groups.
Trump's top diplomat says those and other options are "on the table" if Pakistan is unwilling to change its posture.
Mattis: Defeating Islamic State still top US priority
WASHINGTON (AP) — After attacking a Syrian air base in response to President Bashar Assad's alleged battlefield use of chemical weapons, the Pentagon intends to refocus on defeating the Islamic State group without getting more deeply involved in the country's civil war, Defense Secretary Jim Mattis said Tuesday.
WASHINGTON (AP) — The U.S. military has launched a formal investigation into what role the U.S. played in the deaths of dozens of civilians in Mosul, Iraq, earlier this month, amid warnings from a top American general that the dense urban fight is making it harder to avoid killing innocents.
BEIRUT (AP) — The main Syrian Kurdish force fighting Islamic State militants in northern Syria said Friday that it has enough fighters to take the extremists' de facto capital of Raqqa with the help of the U.S.-led coalition — remarks that reflect a veiled warning to Ankara and also to rival, Turkey-backed opposition forces making headway toward the city.
WASHINGTON (AP) — The top U.S. commander in the Middle East signaled Thursday that there will be a larger and longer American military presence in Syria to accelerate the fight against the Islamic State group and quell friction within the complicated mix of warring factions there.
WASHINGTON (AP) — The top U.S. commander for the Middle East told senators Thursday that he has completed an exhaustive review of the Yemen raid that killed a Navy SEAL, and has concluded there were no lapses in judgment or decision-making surrounding the operation.
US general discusses military aid on Lebanon visit
BEIRUT (AP) — The commander of U.S. forces in the Middle East has met with top officials in Lebanon to discuss American military aid and other efforts to contain the fallout from the civil war in neighboring Syria.
Army Gen. Joseph Votel, the head of U.S. Central Command, met with Lebanese President Michel Aoun, Prime Minister Saad Hariri and Defense Minister Yaacoub Sarraf upon his arrival in Beirut on Monday.
US general said Mosul battle could last months
WASHINGTON (AP) — The fight for Mosul, launched this week by Iraqi security forces supported by U.S. air power and advisers, could take months and is likely to feature periods of fierce combat, the commander of U.S. forces in the Middle East said Wednesday.
Clashes subside in Syria between Turkish, Kurdish forces
BEIRUT (AP) — Clashes between Turkey's military and Kurdish-backed Syrian forces subsided Tuesday evening after days of fighting between the two had frustrated efforts by a U.S.-led coalition to drive the Islamic State group from northern Syria.
Western officials had expressed alarm that the fighting between the two sides, both backed by the U.S. in Syria's 5-year-old civil war, has diverted their attention from the fight against the extremist group.
US commander slams Iran for provocative moves in Gulf
WASHINGTON (AP) — The top commander of U.S. forces in the Middle East sharply criticized Iran on Tuesday for recent high-speed maneuvers by Iranian patrol boats in the Persian Gulf that in one case prompted a U.S. Navy ship to fire warning shots.
Gen. Joseph Votel, commander of U.S. Central Command, told reporters at the Pentagon that these episodes involving the Iranian Revolutionary Guard Corps naval forces are worrying because they risk triggering a dangerous escalation.
US CENTCOM General Scolds Iran Navy for Behavior
Military identifies American soldier killed in Afghanistan
WASHINGTON (AP) — The U.S. military has identified the soldier who was killed in Afghanistan on Tuesday.
The head of U.S. Central Command, Gen. Joseph Votel, issued a statement on Wednesday identifying the soldier as Army Staff Sgt. Matthew V. Thompson.
He did not mention Thompson's age or hometown.
Votel extended condolences to the soldier's family and friends.
Thompson was killed by an improvised explosive device in the southern province of Helmand.
WASHINGTON (AP) — The top U.S. military commander for the Middle East says he's concerned the failed coup in Turkey may have longer term effects on the fight against Islamic State militants in the region.
Gen. Joseph Votel tells the Aspen Security Forum that he's worried the unrest could affect U.S. relations with the Turkish military, noting that some of its leaders have been jailed.
He says military operations out of the air base at Incirlik are back to normal....