President Obama spoke with Egyptian President Abdelfattah al-Sisi today to discuss the U.S.-Egyptian bilateral relationship and developments within the region. The President affirmed the United States’ continuing commitment to the strategic partnership with Egypt and emphasized the importance of bilateral cooperation to promote shared interests in counterterrorism and regional security. President Obama expressed his condolences to the Egyptian people for the spate of terrorists attacks they have suffered. The two leaders agreed on the importance of continuing their countries’ close military and intelligence relationships and encouraged President al-Sisi to invest in the political, economic, and social aspirations of the Egyptian people. The two leaders agreed to stay in touch in the weeks and months ahead.
The U.S. military is flying manned missions over Nigeria in hopes of locating the hundreds of schoolgirls who were kidnapped by an Islamist extremist group last month, a senior official tells Fox News.
The official said the manned missions are intelligence and surveillance missions. At a press briefing Monday White House Press Secretary Jay Carney said the U.S. had experts in a variety of areas, including reconnaissance and surveillance, working on the case of the missing girls. However he said he did not have a “catalog” of the specific resources the experts were using.
“They are actively involved in working with the Nigerian government to provide the advice and the expertise that they can provide to assist in that effort,” Carney said.
The information comes as a new video, believed to be from Boko Haram, the group behind the kidnappings, surfaced Monday showing more than 100 of the kidnapped Christian schoolgirls praying to Allah.
The video also features the Islamic terror group’s leader – who was reportedly negotiating with the government – saying he will hold the girls until imprisoned militants are freed.
“As you know, Nigeria is in the lead. We are simply supporting their efforts. As you know also the United States’ policy is to deny kidnappers the benefits of their criminal acts including ransoms or concessions,” Psaki said at a press briefing.
The video is the first sighting of the abducted girls since more than 300 were taken April 14 from their school in the northern town of Chibok by Islamist militants. Although more than 50 girls escaped their captors and are now safe, at least 276 remain missing.
The search so far has centered on the Sambisa forest, with Nigerian troops being aided by advisers from the U.S., Britain and France.
Pentagon spokesman Col. Steve Warren clarified the U.S. presence in Nigeria for reporters Monday, saying there are more than 50 U.S. military personnel and advisors based at the Nigerian Embassy to help “advise and assist” in the search for the missing girls. The teams have expertise in “communications, logistics, civil affairs, and intelligence,” Warren said.
The Associated Press contributed to this report
Jaafari has served as Syria’s envoy to the UN since 2006 and has been an unwavering supporter of Syrian President Bashar Assad throughout the 3-year long civil war. Jaafari has not yet commented on the restriction.
“UN delegates of certain countries are required to notify us or obtain permission prior to travel outside of a 25-mile radius. So this is not something out of the realm of what we’ve done before,” she told reporters in Washington.
Last year Jaafari complained to the General Assembly of the United Nations about the UN’s double standards in the Commission of Inquiry on Syria, which he said did not condemn the crimes of foreign backed terrorists on Syrian soil.
Talks between the Syrian government and the opposition fell apart last month, with both sides repeating their previous positions and blaming each other for the impasse.
Observers also note that the Syrian opposition has now become deeply fragmented and radicalized and is not represented by those attending the Geneva peace talks.
WASHINGTON — Four U.S. military personnel investigating potential evacuation routes in Libya were taken into custody at a checkpoint and then detained briefly by the Libyan government before being released, U.S. officials said Friday night.
These four military personnel were operating in an area near the coastal city of Sabratha in northwestern Libya as part of security preparedness efforts when they were taken into custody, State Department spokeswoman Jen Psaki said in a statement. Sabathra, about 40 miles west of Tripoli, is a popular tourist area with its ancient Roman ruins.
No one was injured. The military personnel were taken to the U.S. Embassy after their release, a Defense Department official said. The official was not authorized to discuss the incident by name and requested anonymity.
The four were supporting U.S. Marine security forces protecting the American Embassy, the official said. They were likely U.S. special operations forces, which have been deployed to Libya.
An altercation apparently took place at the checkpoint, the Defense Department official said. Reports of gunfire could not be confirmed.
After they were detained at the checkpoint, the Americans were transferred to the Ministry of the Interior and held for a few hours, the official said. Psaki said U.S. officials were still trying to confirm details of the incident.
“We value our relationship with the new Libya,” Psaki said. “We have a strategic partnership based on shared interests and our strong support for Libya’s historic democratic transition.”
The U.S. Embassy in Tripoli includes a security detail. The embassy’s personnel are restricted in their movements in Libya.
Libya has been marked by unrest since the ouster in 2011 of longtime dictator Moammar Gadhafi. Armed groups that fought Gadhafi’s army turned themselves into militias that exploited the weakness of the weak central government in Tripoli and operate independently of the police and the military.
In September 2012, terrorists attacked the U.S. diplomatic mission at Benghazi, Libya, killing U.S. Ambassador Chris Stevens and three other Americans.
President Obama, who was vacationing in Hawaii, was updated about the incident by staff from the White House’s National Security Council, officials said.
- U.S. military personnel released after being held by Libya government (dailystar.com.lb)
- Four U.S. military personnel released after being detained in Libya (cbsnews.com)
- 4 U.S. Military Personnel Detained By Libyan Government, Officials Say [UPDATE] (huffingtonpost.com)