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U.S. Central Command has followed through on its pledge to strike Syrian militias when they threaten U.S.-led coalition troops fighting ISIS in Syria. On June 6, coalition forces bombarded a convoy of fighters loyal to the regime of Syrian president Bashar al-Assad as it advanced on a small base in southeast Syria, CENTCOM said in a statement.
While the U.S.-led coalition is not officially at war with the Assad government, the Department of Defense has taken a more aggressive stance toward the regime since President Donald Trump ordered the launch of 59 missiles at the al-Shayrat military air base southeast of Homs.
"The Coalition does not seek to fight Syrian regime or pro-regime forces but remains ready to defend themselves if pro-regime forces refuse to vacate the deconfliction zone,” CENTCOM said in a statement.
In late May, U.S. aircraft dropped leaflets warning pro-regime militias to stay out of the deconfliction zone around the At Tanf Garrison, located at the Tanf border crossing between Syria and Iraq. U.S. and British special forces at that garrison recently trained two Syrian opposition groups to fight against ISIS.
The warning evidently went unheeded by the militias. On Tuesday, a convoy entered the 110 km-diameter deconfliction zone, posing a threat to coalition and partner forces, according to CENTCOM. The convoy reportedly included a tank, anti-aircraft weapons, armed technical vehicles, and more than 60 soldiers.
After several more warnings went unheeded, the coalition called in an airstrike, “destroying two artillery pieces, an anti-aircraft weapon, and damaging a tank,” CENTCOM said in a statement.
The strike marks the second time the coalition has targeted pro-government forces near the base. On May 18, U.S. airstrikes struck a convoy of pro-regime militants approaching Tanf, resulting in the destruction of a tank and bulldozer. The Pentagon believes the bulldozer was being used to construct a firebase on the edge of the deconfliction zone, Military Times reported.
Meanwhile, Reuters reported last week that Syrian rebels say they are receiving more arms from the U.S. and its allies to help fend off the militants, and CENTCOM told Military Times that coalition forces “are prepared to defend themselves if pro-regime forces refuse to vacate the deconfliction zone.”
Escalating tensions in southern Syria raise the troubling possibility of a full-blown confrontation between ground forces technically not at war with each other. CENTCOM, tied up in the coalition siege of ISIS’s de facto capital in Raqqa, made clear in its statement that it’s committed to avoiding such an outcome.
The dropping of the leaflets in late May coincided with the arrival of pro-regime militias from both Iraq and Syria, which have been amassing near the Tanf border crossing over the past several weeks. One group, a Shiite militia called Katib Imam Ali, positioned “a large number of forces to include tanks and technicals” just outside the deconfliction zone, according to Military Times.
The Syrian regime is backed by Iran, and the two countries are determined to open a supply corridor between Iraq and Syria that runs directly through the area where the At Tanf Garrison is located. Both of the opposition groups being trained by coalition forces there have been involved in insurgent operations in the past, making the base an even more appealing target for pro-regime forces.
“The Coalition calls on all parties in southern Syria to focus their efforts on the defeat of ISIS, which is our common enemy and the greatest threat to regional and worldwide peace and security,” CENTCOM said.
Two Air Force pararescue Airmen were awarded the Silver Star Medal on Friday for saving dozens of lives during separate Afghan battles in 2018 and 2019.
Tech Sgt. Gavin Fisher and Staff Sgt. Daniel Swensen both received the third highest military award for their bravery. Fisher also received the Purple Heart for wounds received in combat.
WASHINGTON (Reuters) - The U.S. government covertly moved to expel two officials from the Chinese embassy earlier this year, after they drove onto a military base, the New York Times reported, citing anonymous sources familiar with the matter.
The newspaper reported on Sunday that one of the two Chinese officials is believed to be an intelligence officer operating under diplomatic cover.
The Chinese officials breached security at a base in Virginia this fall, and only stopped driving after fire trucks were used to block their path, the Times said.
Trump set to announce he's withdrawing 4,000 troops from Afghanistan amid troubled peace talks with Taliban
Editor's Note: This article originally appeared on Business Insider.
President Donald Trump is set to announce the withdrawal of roughly 4,000 US troops from Afghanistan as early as next week, NBC News reported on Saturday based on conversations with three current and former officials.
This would come as the US is engaged in ongoing, troubled peace talks with the Taliban. The talks resumed in early December after Trump abruptly scrapped negotiations with the Taliban in September, only to be paused again this week after an attack near Bagram Airfield on Wednesday.
Thomas Hoke can still recall the weather in December 1944, and the long days that followed.
The battle started on Dec. 16, but his company arrived Dec. 27 and would stay there until the battle's end, nearly a month later. By the time he arrived, snow had blanketed Germany in what was one of the biggest storms the country had seen in years.
"It was 20 below and a heavy fog encompassed the whole area," Hoke, 96, recalled from his Emmitsburg home.
The fog was to Germany's advantage because Allied aircraft were grounded, including recognizance flights, allowing the Nazis to slip in.
West Point is investigating a hand gesture made by several cadets and midshipmen during an ESPN pre-game broadcast at the Army-Navy game Saturday after clips of the signals went viral because of their association with white power.
"West Point is looking into the matter," a spokesperson said in an emailed statement. "At this time we do not know the intent of the cadets."