It could be years, maybe even decades, before the full details of the U.S. special operations mission in Syria comes to light.
Until then, they’ll continue to emerge only in bits and pieces — in occasional fragments that surface on the internet with little or no context, as they did on Sept 16, when a video purportedly showing a convoy of American operators leaving a town in northern Syria after a confrontation with local rebels began circulating online.
According to Reuters, the incident involved between five and six American operators, and took place in the border town of al-Rai. The Americans were apparently there supporting Turkish-backed rebels battling the Islamic State as part of an operation called Euphrates Shield, which was launched last month to push ISIS from the border.
But it was a group affiliated with the U.S.-backed Free Syrian Army, and not members of ISIS, who apparently drove the Americans away.
In the video, tanks (which appear Russian-made) and pickup trucks roll down a crowded dirt road. In the back of a few of the trucks, Caucasian men sporting helmets and body armor in the fashion of Western commandos stand or sit behind machine guns. Sitting shotgun in one truck, a commando casually throws up a “shaka” sign for the camera. The footage is bookended by footage of armed rebels chanting anti-American slogans.
At this point, it’s impossible to say what exactly drove the commandos out of the village, but a senior rebel source told Reuters that it was the protests that did it. According to the GlobalPost, threats of violence against the Americans can be heard in the video, and one of the protesters shouts, “We won’t accept any American here. We’re Muslims, not infidels.”
While the Syrian rebels may have succeeded in driving the Americans out of al-Rai, it’s important to note that they didn’t act on their threats. In the video, the chants give way to an almost ghostly silence when the commandos pass by, as if that portion was spliced in between the footage of the rebels chanting to create the illusion that the Americans were retreating, rather than simply driving away.
Multiple sources, including the Pentagon and the Turkish military, confirmed to Reuters that U.S. forces were operating in the area at the time the incident reportedly occurred. The Wall Street Journal reports that 40 special operations soldiers are currently deployed to northern Syria to help Turkish government forces.
NAVAL BASE SAN DIEGO — The trial of Navy SEAL Chief Eddie Gallagher officially kicked off on Tuesday with the completion of jury selection, opening statements, and witness testimony indicating that drinking alcohol on the front lines of Mosul, Iraq in 2017 seemed to be a common occurrence for members of SEAL Team 7 Alpha Platoon.
Government prosecutors characterized Gallagher as a knife-wielding murderer who not only killed a wounded ISIS fighter but shot indiscriminately at innocent civilians, while the defense argued that those allegations were falsehoods spread by Gallagher's angry subordinates, with attorney Tim Parlatore telling the jury that "this trial is not about murder. It's about mutiny."
As a Medal of Honor recipient, former Army Staff Sgt. David Bellavia will also be eligible for retroactive monthly pension payments stretching back to 2004.
All Medal of Honor recipients receive a pension starting on the date they formally receive the Medal of Honor, which is currently $1,329.58 per month, according to the Department of Veterans Affairs.
But Medal of Honor recipients are also eligible for a retroactive payment for monthly stipends that technically took effect on the "date of heroism," said Gina Jackson, a spokeswoman for the Department of Veterans Affairs.
NEW YORK (Reuters) - A unit of UK infrastructure giant Balfour Beatty plc falsified housing maintenance records at a major U.S. military base to help it maximize fees earned from the Department of Defense, a Reuters investigation found.
At Tinker Air Force Base in Oklahoma, the company's U.S.-based unit used a second set of books and altered records to make it appear responsive to maintenance requests, Reuters found in a review of company and Air Force emails, internal memos and other documents, as well as interviews with former workers.