Friday, July 19
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US Brings Back Suspected American IS Fighter From Syria to Face Charges

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An American suspected of fighting with the Islamic State terror group in Syria is back in the United States, where he is expected to be charged with and tried for terrorism-related crimes. U.S. defense officials confirmed the transfer of the suspect Thursday, saying U.S. troops assisted in bringing the U.S. national back home for prosecution. According to a Pentagon statement, the suspect "was previously held by Syrian Democratic Forces as a suspected member of ISIS." It referred other questions to the Department of Justice. Justice Department officials said they were aware of the transfer, first reported by CNN, but declined to comment.Holding foreign fighters Since the collapse of the Islamic State's physical caliphate in Syria in March, U.S.-backed Syrian Democratic Forces have been ...

US Fears Iran Seized UAE-Based Tanker in Strait of Hormuz

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DUBAI, UNITED ARAB EMIRATES - A small oil tanker from the United Arab Emirates traveling through the Strait of Hormuz entered Iranian waters and turned off its tracker two days ago, leading the U.S. to suspect Iran seized the vessel amid heightened tensions in the region, an American defense official said Tuesday. Iran offered no immediate comment on what happened to the Panamanian-flagged oil tanker Riah late Saturday night, though an Emirati official acknowledged the vessel sent out no distress call. Oil tankers previously have been targeted in the wider region amid tensions between the U.S. and Iran over its unraveling nuclear deal with world powers. The concern about the Riah comes as Iran continues its own high-pressure campaign over its nuclear program after President Donald Trump un...

US Fears Iran Seized UAE-Based Tanker in Strait of Hormuz

General
DUBAI, UNITED ARAB EMIRATES - A small oil tanker from the United Arab Emirates traveling through the Strait of Hormuz entered Iranian waters and turned off its tracker two days ago, leading the U.S. to suspect Iran seized the vessel amid heightened tensions in the region, an American defense official said Tuesday. Iran offered no immediate comment on what happened to the Panamanian-flagged oil tanker Riah late Saturday night, though an Emirati official acknowledged the vessel sent out no distress call. Oil tankers previously have been targeted in the wider region amid tensions between the U.S. and Iran over its unraveling nuclear deal with world powers. The concern about the Riah comes as Iran continues its own high-pressure campaign over its nuclear program after President Donald Trump un...

No Evidence of Russia Buying Iran’s Oil in Claimed Defiance of US Sanctions

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A Russian bid to defy U.S. sanctions on Iran appears to have failed, with Russian energy experts saying Moscow has made no recent purchases of Iranian oil as part of a sputtering 2014 deal with Tehran.Russian state media have said that under the August 2014 memorandum, which was never published in full, Moscow agreed to buy Iranian oil in order to deliver it to international customers, while Iran would use the payments received from Russia to buy and import Russian goods. Iranian state media have said only half of the received Russian funds would be used to buy Russian imports. The two sides reached the agreement on what they called an oil for goods program at a time when Iran was under a previous round of international sanctions against its oil exports. Russia said the deal was intended t...

No Evidence of Russia Buying Iran’s Oil in Claimed Defiance of US Sanctions

General
A Russian bid to defy U.S. sanctions on Iran appears to have failed, with Russian energy experts saying Moscow has made no recent purchases of Iranian oil as part of a sputtering 2014 deal with Tehran.Russian state media have said that under the August 2014 memorandum, which was never published in full, Moscow agreed to buy Iranian oil in order to deliver it to international customers, while Iran would use the payments received from Russia to buy and import Russian goods. Iranian state media have said only half of the received Russian funds would be used to buy Russian imports. The two sides reached the agreement on what they called an oil for goods program at a time when Iran was under a previous round of international sanctions against its oil exports. Russia said the deal was intended t...

Trump Nominates Esper to Be Defense Chief, Succeeding Mattis

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WASHINGTON - President Donald Trump on Monday asked the Senate to confirm Mark Esper as the successor to former Defense Secretary Jim Mattis, whose resignation last December opened an unprecedented period of senior-level instability at the Pentagon. The moment the nomination was received by the Senate on Monday afternoon, Esper was required to step out of his role as acting defense secretary � a job he has held since June � until he is confirmed as the permanent secretary. He reverted to his previous position of Army secretary. Filling in for Esper pending his confirmation is Richard Spencer, who has been the civilian leader of the Navy since August 2017. Spencer's tenure as acting secretary is expected to be brief. Esper will have his Senate confirmation hearing on Tuesday and could be co

Trump Nominates Esper to Be Defense Chief, Succeeding Mattis

General
WASHINGTON - President Donald Trump on Monday asked the Senate to confirm Mark Esper as the successor to former Defense Secretary Jim Mattis, whose resignation last December opened an unprecedented period of senior-level instability at the Pentagon. The moment the nomination was received by the Senate on Monday afternoon, Esper was required to step out of his role as acting defense secretary � a job he has held since June � until he is confirmed as the permanent secretary. He reverted to his previous position of Army secretary. Filling in for Esper pending his confirmation is Richard Spencer, who has been the civilian leader of the Navy since August 2017. Spencer's tenure as acting secretary is expected to be brief. Esper will have his Senate confirmation hearing on Tuesday and could be co

Syria Says Militant Attack Shuts Down Gas Pipeline

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DAMASCUS, SYRIA - Militants targeted a gas pipeline in government-controlled central Syria, putting it out of order Sunday, according to state media.The SANA news agency didn't name the attackers. The area in the central Homs province is close to where remnants of the Islamic State group are still holed up after losing all the territory they once held in the country.SANA said technical teams are working to fix the pipeline, which links the Shaer fields to the Ebla processing plant. It did not elaborate on the extent of the damage or the nature of the attack.The agency said the pipeline carries about 2.5 million cubic meters of gas to the processing plant and onward to power stations.Islamic State militants briefly seized the Shaer fields in 2014 and 2016 before pro-government forces recapt...

Syria Says Militant Attack Shuts Down Gas Pipeline

General
DAMASCUS, SYRIA - Militants targeted a gas pipeline in government-controlled central Syria, putting it out of order Sunday, according to state media.The SANA news agency didn't name the attackers. The area in the central Homs province is close to where remnants of the Islamic State group are still holed up after losing all the territory they once held in the country.SANA said technical teams are working to fix the pipeline, which links the Shaer fields to the Ebla processing plant. It did not elaborate on the extent of the damage or the nature of the attack.The agency said the pipeline carries about 2.5 million cubic meters of gas to the processing plant and onward to power stations.Islamic State militants briefly seized the Shaer fields in 2014 and 2016 before pro-government forces recapt...

Britain to Release Iranian Tanker if Tehran Gives Guarantee

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LONDON, British Foreign Minister Jeremy Hunt told his Iranian counterpart on Saturday that Britain would facilitate the release of the detained Grace 1 oil tanker if Tehran gave guarantees it would not go to Syria. British Royal Marines seized the tanker last week off the coast of the British Mediterranean territory of Gibraltar on suspicion of violating sanctions against Syria. Iran on Saturday reiterated its call for the ship's release. It denies the tanker was taking oil to Syria in violation of European Union sanctions. The affair has stoked tension in the Persian Gulf region, with Britain saying Thursday that it had fended off Iranian ships that tried to block a British tanker in the area. Hunt said the call with Iran's foreign minister had been constructive. He said Mohammad Java...