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Tuesday, Oct 04th

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Pentagon: US kills Islamic State leader in Syria in drone strike

Drone strike kills Al Qaida leader in SyriaThe Pentagon said Tuesday that it killed a leader of the Islamic State group in Syria in a drone strike.

U.S. Central Command said in a news release that Maher al-Agal was killed Tuesday and an unidentified senior official in the Islamic State group was seriously injured. The Pentagon said there were no civilian casualties, though it wasn't possible to immediately confirm that information.

The U.S. carried out the strike outside Jindaris, a town in northwest Syria close to the Turkish border.

The Islamic State group at the height of its power controlled more than 40,000 square miles (103,600 square kilometers) stretching from Syria to Iraq and ruled more than 8 million people. While the group's territorial state collapsed in 2019, its leaders have turned to guerilla tactics and have been able to "efficiently restructure themselves organizationally," according to the Washington-based Carnegie Endowment for International Peace, a nonpartisan think tank.

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Nasty weather blew a jet off an aircraft carrier. How’s that possible?

Super Hornet Jet blown off carrierOn Friday, “heavy weather” swept a state-of-the-art fighter jet off the deck of the aircraft carrier USS Harry S. Truman into the Mediterranean Sea, the Navy reported Sunday in a news release. No one was aboard the F/A-18 Super Hornet jet, which can fly faster than the speed of sound, or up to 1,190 mph.

The incident raises questions about what kind of weather could have possibly dislodged a jet that weighs more than 32,000 pounds.

A sailor was also injured at the time “while conducting operations,” the Navy wrote. The turbulent weather occurred when the Truman was conducting a “replenishment-at-sea” or resupply mission, the Navy said, which “was safely terminated.”

A Navy spokesperson did not immediately respond to questions about the conditions that might have led to the fighter being swept overboard. Although the Navy described the heavy weather as “unexpected,” an analysis of available computer model forecasts from the middle of last week reveals that there were many signs of storminess.

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US army general suspended for mocking Jill Biden’s support of abortion rights

US Army General suspended

The US army has suspended a retired three-star general from a lucrative consultant’s role after a social media post appearing under his name taunted first lady Jill Biden’s support of abortion rights.

Former top army spokesperson Gary Volesky, who retired as a lieutenant general and earned a silver star for gallantry while serving in Iraq, was making $92 an hour advising military officers, staff and students who were taking part in war games and other similar activities.

But then a Twitter account under his name replied to a statement from Biden that condemned the supreme court’s decision on 24 June to reverse its landmark 1973 ruling in Roe v Wade which had established federal abortion rights.

“For nearly 50 years, women have had the right to make our own decisions about our bodies,” the Democratic first lady’s statement said about the ruling, which in effect outlawed abortions in more than half the country. “Today, that right was stolen from us.”

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'There's a degree of mistrust': a third of US military personnel refuse Covid vaccine

Mistrust in military as one third refuse vaccineReluctance to be vaccinated for Covid-19 is now rife in the US military, with about a third of troops on active duty or in the national guard refusing to be administered the vaccine.

Soldiers have previously been given approved vaccines on a mandatory basis but because the vaccines for the coronavirus have only been given an emergency use authorization by the Food and Drug Administration, members of the military are able to opt out.

Many are choosing to do so, with military officials recently telling Congress that a third of service members have declined the shots, the New York Times reported. At the large Fort Bragg military base in North Carolina, acceptance rates for the vaccines are below 50%.

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Pentagon, stumped by extremism in ranks, orders stand-down in next 60 days

Sec. Defense AustinThe U.S. military on Wednesday acknowledged it was unsure about how to address white nationalism and other extremism in its ranks, and announced plans for military-wide stand-downs pausing regular activity at some point in the next 60 days to tackle the issue.

The decision to a hold a stand-down was made by Lloyd Austin, who made history by becoming the military’s first Black defense secretary after a long career rising in the ranks of the Army. In his confirmation hearing, Austin underscored the need to rid the military of “racists and extremists”.

Pentagon spokesman John Kirby said Austin ordered the stand-down after a meeting with the U.S. military branch leaders, who are under pressure to show progress in combating extremism after current and former military servicemembers were found to have participated in the siege of the U.S. Capitol on Jan. 6.

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The Army is searching for another missing Fort Hood soldier

Fort Hood: another soldier missingAuthorities are asking for the community’s help in locating Sgt. Elder Fernandez, a Fort Hood soldier who was last seen Monday.

Fernandez, 23, is a chemical, biological, radiological and nuclear specialist assigned to Fort Hood’s 1st Cavalry Division, officials said. He was last seen Monday when his staff sergeant dropped him off at his Killeen home, police said. Fernandez’s family contacted police on Wednesday.

Russia reportedly paid Taliban-linked militants bounty money to kill American troops

Putin paid bounties for killing of US soldiers in Afghanistan

US intelligence officials assessed that Russia's military intelligence agency paid bounties to Taliban-linked militants to kill NATO troops in Afghanistan — which include American forces, according to a New York Times report on Friday.

US officials discovered information about the bounties earlier this year. Some of the bounty money was collected by either Islamist militants or those associated with them, The Times reported.

In 2019, 17 US troops were killed in combat in Afghanistan, according to the Defense Department.

Interrogations of Afghan militants and criminals yielded the information indicating that Taliban-linked militants were offered bounties from Russian forces, The Times reported. The intelligence officials believe the bounties involve Unit 29155, a branch of Russia's GRU military intelligence agency.

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