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SitRep: Released Gitmo Detainees Kill Americans; Two U.S. Carriers In The Med.

Deadly Chinese Drones; Baghdad Hit Again; and Lots More

An F-18 jet fighter flies out of the USS Eisenhower aircraft carrier in the Arabian sea on May 24, 2010. The USS Eisenhower is on a mission to support US-led coalition forces in Afghanistan.   AFP PHOTO/MARWAN NAAMANI (Photo credit should read MARWAN NAAMANI/AFP/Getty Images)
An F-18 jet fighter flies out of the USS Eisenhower aircraft carrier in the Arabian sea on May 24, 2010. The USS Eisenhower is on a mission to support US-led coalition forces in Afghanistan. AFP PHOTO/MARWAN NAAMANI (Photo credit should read MARWAN NAAMANI/AFP/Getty Images)
An F-18 jet fighter flies out of the USS Eisenhower aircraft carrier in the Arabian sea on May 24, 2010. The USS Eisenhower is on a mission to support US-led coalition forces in Afghanistan. AFP PHOTO/MARWAN NAAMANI (Photo credit should read MARWAN NAAMANI/AFP/Getty Images)

 

Released Gitmo detainees have killed Americans: Roughly 12 former Guantanamo detainees released under the Bush administration eventually returned to the fight in Afghanistan, and some were later responsible for killing at least a half-dozen Americans, the Washington Post has discovered.

“One U.S. official familiar with the intelligence said that nine of the detainees suspected in the attacks are now dead or in foreign government custody. The official would not specify the exact number of detainees involved but said it was fewer than 15,” the Post reports. One of the dead includes an American civilian: a female aid worker who died in Afghanistan in 2008. Overall, almost 700 detainees have been released from Guantanamo since the prison opened in 2002, and 80 inmates remain.

 

Released Gitmo detainees have killed Americans: Roughly 12 former Guantanamo detainees released under the Bush administration eventually returned to the fight in Afghanistan, and some were later responsible for killing at least a half-dozen Americans, the Washington Post has discovered.

“One U.S. official familiar with the intelligence said that nine of the detainees suspected in the attacks are now dead or in foreign government custody. The official would not specify the exact number of detainees involved but said it was fewer than 15,” the Post reports. One of the dead includes an American civilian: a female aid worker who died in Afghanistan in 2008. Overall, almost 700 detainees have been released from Guantanamo since the prison opened in 2002, and 80 inmates remain.

Firepower in the Med. In a move the Obama administration most definitely didn’t anticipate when it took office, the Pentagon has deployed two aircraft carriers in the Mediterranean Sea for the first time since the U.S. invasion of Iraq in 2003. FP’s Paul McLeary reports the ships are expected to launch strikes on the Islamic State across Syria and Iraq — the very country President Barack Obama promised to disentangle the United States from when he was running for office in 2008.

The USS Harry S Truman has been launching strikes from the Mediterranean since last week, and has now been joined by the USS Dwight D Eisenhower. U.S. Navy officials also want to make sure that Russia is taking notice of the two flattops. An anonymous military official tells the Wall Street Journal that the Truman offers a “needed presence in the Med to check…the Russians.”

Baghdad hit. While Iraqi forces push into the Islamic State-held city of Fallujah, the terrorist group is thought to be behind two new car bomb attacks in and around Baghdad Thursday that killed at least 22, and wounded another 70. One car bomb slammed into a commercial street, killing 15, and the other an army checkpoint, killing seven soldiers in Taji, Iraqi police said.

The Iraqi army’s assault on Fallujah was in part undertaken to stop the recent spate of attacks on Baghdad, most of which were thought to come from the city just 35 miles to the west of the capital. The fight has stalled out however, due to ISIS resistance, squabbling between different Iraqi army units, and the flood of civilians fleeing the city.

Who is a civilian? Some mostly Shiite Iraqi militias pitching in for the assault on the Sunni city have been accused of human rights violations, including torture, when intercepting young Sunni men fleeing the city. “If there are fighters in there, they’re weeding them out and sending them to detention,” Baghdad-based spokesman for the U.S. military, Col. Chris Garver told reporters at the Pentagon Thursday. “It’s an Iraqi-led operation, and they’ve been the ones doing that.”

Reporting from the city has said that ISIS fighters are shooting some civilians as they try and escape the city, but when it comes to the alleged abuses by Shiite militias, Garver said the coalition has “not confirmed those reports ourselves,” but prime minister Haider al-Abadi “has come out and said he is aware of it and has launched an investigation.”

Blowback. The growing influence of the Iranian-backed Shiite militias in Iraq has kicked off a fundraising blitz in Saudi Arabia, apparently. “You cannot control the sympathies of people,” said Saudi Maj. Gen. Mansour al-Turki, a spokesman for his government’s Interior Ministry. Indeed.

Protip: Don’t try to rob a McDonald’s packed with French special forces troops.

Good morning again from the Sitrep crew, thanks for clicking on through for the summer 2016 edition of SitRep. As always, if you have any thoughts, announcements, tips, or national  security-related events to share, please pass them along to SitRep HQ. Best way is to send them to: paul.mcleary@foreignpolicy.com or on Twitter: @paulmcleary or @arawnsley

China

China is stepping up its drone game, and its unmanned aircraft can now operate much longer by using satellite data links, PopSci reports. The People’s Republic has long made armed (and unarmed) drones and exported them to a number of countries around the world, from Nigeria to Kazakhstan and Iraq. But unlike the American drones that China’s unmanned fleet often copies, however, the Chinese versions have lacked satellite data links that allow pilots to operate the aircraft from ground stations far away. Now, Chinese officials have announced they’ve carried out a test of one of China’s CH-4 drones, where it fired a missile from a satellite-linked ground control station a thousand kilometers away.

For those of you keeping score of maritime tensions between China and its neighbors, this week brings another incident in the subtle territorial signaling playing out in the region. Japanese officials are claiming that a Chinese frigate from the People’s Liberation Army Navy made an appearance near a disputed set of islands, which Japan calls Senkaku and China calls Diaoyu. Both countries lay claim to the islands and China has sailed coast guard ships there before. The presence of a Chinese military vessel, however, would be a first for the area.

India

India is looking to sell its new BrahMos cruise missile abroad with a particular eye towards countries wary of China, Reuters reports. India has jointly developed the missile with Russia, and so far, Vietnam is at the top of a list of potential customers. The Philippines is also rumored to be eyeing a BrahMos purchase, alongside Malaysia, Thailand and United Arab Emirates. India had refrained from offering the missile to country’s locked in territorial disputes with the People’s Republic, but experts say Prime Minister Narendra Modi now believes that building a network of defense alliances in the region will provide it greater leverage.

Russia

Russia is gearing up to sell an export version of its Orlan-10 drone, according to Army Recognition. Rosoboronexport, Russia’s state-run arms export agency, says it’s seeing plenty of customer interest in the reconnaissance UAV. The drone has made frequent appearances in the skies above Syria and Ukraine, occasionally showing up in wreckage on the ground after being shot down or crashing. Rosoboronexport Deputy Director Sergey Goreslavsky says Russia’s drone industry is finally catching up to its competition in the international market after years of neglecting the field.

Syria

The New York Times reports that three hospitals in Aleppo were hit by airstrikes within three hours on Wednesday, including a pediatric facility run by the United Nations Children’s Emergency Fund (UNICEF). UNICEF did not provide casualty numbers for the attack on its facility but locals told the Times that at least 10 people had been killed in the other strikes. Medical facilities in Syria have repeatedly been hit by airstrikes in the past year of the conflict, with many groups accusing Russia of deliberately targeting the buildings. Russian officials, for their part, have denied targeting medical or humanitarian operations in Syria.

Libya

Libyan forces are tightening the net around the Islamic State’s stronghold in the city of Sirte, according to the AP. Troops aligned with the internationally-recognized Libyan government based in Tripoli tell the newswire that they’re now just three miles from the city’s center. Sirte is the only city the jihadist group controls in Libya and its sole urban center outside its self-styled caliphate in Iraq and Syria. Armed groups flourished in the chaos following the ouster of Libyan dictator Moammar Gadhafi and a number of Islamic State officials have traveled from Syria to the country in recent months in an attempt to strengthen its beachhead there.

 

Photo credit: MARWAN NAAMANI/AFP/Getty Images

Adam Rawnsley is a Philadelphia-based reporter covering technology and national security. He co-authors FP’s Situation Report newsletter and has written for The Daily Beast, Wired, and War Is Boring.

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