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Defense Secretary Ashton Carter says the U.S. will begin to increase the tempo of an air campaign against Islamic State targets in Syria and Iraq.

"We won't hold back from supporting capable partners in opportunistic attacks against ISIL, or conducting such missions directly whether by strikes from the air or direct action on the ground," Carter said during testimony before the Senate Armed Services Committee.

Victor Suwatcharapinun / CPBN

In the days leading up to Veterans Day, WNPR brings you stories from veterans and those in their communities.

Gulaid Ismail is a veteran of the Iraq War.

The U.S. Army / Creative Commons

A new memoir from British Middle East expert Emma Sky provides an insider’s take on the Iraq war. This hour, we talk to Sky about her book called The Unraveling: High Hopes and Missed Opportunities in Iraq.

Secretary of State John Kerry stepped before a packed auditorium Thursday. He was at Indiana University for the opening of a school of international studies.

"I have managed to completely forget that when running for president in 2004, I was crushed in Indiana," he quipped.

Kerry was welcomed Thursday as he promoted the Obama administration's recent international agreements, like deals on Pacific trade and Iran's nuclear program.

Speaking from the Roosevelt Room of the White House, President Obama said on Thursday that slowing down the U.S. withdrawal from Afghanistan is "the right thing to do."

"Afghan forces are still not as strong as they need to be," Obama said, so the United States will leave 9,800 troops in the country through most of 2016. By 2017, about 5,500 troops will remain in a few bases across the country.

Obama said that the U.S. mission in Afghanistan will remain focused on two non-combat objectives: to train Afghan forces and carry out counterterrorism operations against al-Qaida.

Pete Souza / White House

Senior administration officials say President Barack Obama will keep 5,500 U.S. troops in Afghanistan when he leaves office in 2017.

Updated at 1:27 p.m. ET.

The United States has shelved a program that was intended to train moderate Syrian rebel fighters.

As we've reported, the $500 million program, which sought to train 5,400 fighters, has failed. At last count, the U.S. said it had been able to train only about 60 fighters.

Russian cruise missiles that were fired from warships in the Caspian sea and were intended to hit Syrian targets crashed in Iran, instead, a U.S. official tells NPR's Tom Bowman.

Tom reports that the missiles landed in a rural area of Iran. Local television, Tom reports, said "that something crashed and exploded near the northern city of Tekab, shattering windows and leaving a large crater."

A day after the Russian navy fired cruise missiles at targets in Syria — and two days after Russia's warplanes veered into Turkey's airspace — NATO Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg says the alliance "is able and ready to defend all allies, including Turkey, against any threat."

The international aid group Doctors Without Borders (Médecins Sans Frontières) is calling for an international investigation into what it calls a war crime in Afghanistan — Saturday's U.S. airstrikes that killed 22 people, including medical staff and patients at the organization's hospital in Kunduz.

Updated at 3:25 p.m. ET

NATO in Afghanistan says it will lead an investigation into an airstrike in Kunduz this weekend that hit a Médecins Sans Frontières hospital, killing 22 people — an attack that the humanitarian organization, also known as Doctors Without Borders, has called "a war crime."

A U.S.-led airstrike on the northern Afghan city was carried out Saturday, but the circumstances surrounding it remain murky. NATO acknowledges only that the raid occurred near the charity's hospital.

Taliban forces stormed the Afghan city of Kunduz on Monday; after several days of fighting, Afghan forces claimed to have retaken the city.

Updated at 10:00 a.m. ET Sunday

An aerial attack carried out by U.S. forces appears to have badly damaged a Médecins Sans Frontières trauma center in the Afghan city of Kunduz in the early hours on Saturday, killing 19 people — 12 staff working for the international aid organization and seven patients, including three children.

Thirty-seven were injured in the attack, according to MSF, also known as Doctors Without Borders.

"All indications currently point to the bombing being carried out by international Coalition forces," MSF said.

Updated at 11:20 a.m. ET

In a new development that could change the dynamic of Syria's civil war, Russian military began carrying out airstrikes in Syria on Wednesday. Russia says it will target ISIS fighters as part of a plan to fight terrorism.

U.S. State Department spokesman John Kirby says a Russian official informed the U.S. Embassy in Baghdad about the missions and also requested that American military aircraft avoid Syrian airspace during Russian operations.

After nearly 10,000 refugees and migrants entered Croatia in the past two days, the country has placed its army on alert to deploy on the country's border with Serbia. People who were turned away by Hungary now see Croatia as an alternate route into European Union countries.

Reporting from the Croatia-Serbia border, Lauren Frayer spoke to Jamal al-Shahoud, a refugee from Syria, who told her, "Here no food, no water. No buses, no trains. Nothing here. Just tired."

Lauren reports for our Newscast unit:

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