DUBAI, UNITED ARAB EMIRATES – An unarmed Iranian drone shadowed a U.S. aircraft carrier at night and came close enough to F-18 fighter jets to put the lives of American pilots at risk, the Navy said Tuesday, reporting the second such tense encounter within a week. The Iranian Sadegh drone flew without any warning lights during the encounter Sunday night with the USS Nimitz, said Lt. Ian McConnaughey, a spokesman for the Bahrain-based 5th Fleet. The drone did not respond to repeated calls over the radio and came within 1,000 feet (300 meters) of U.S. fighters, he said. That "created a dangerous situation with the potential for collision and is not in keeping with international maritime customs and laws," McConnaughey said in a statement. The drone was unarmed, the lieutenant said, though that model can carry missiles.
MOSUL, IRAQ/SALAHIYAH IRAQ – Iraq's special forces worked Sunday to clear neighborhoods on the eastern edge of Islamic State-held Mosul as bombings launched by the extremist group elsewhere in the country killed at least 20 people. The Mosul offensive has slowed in recent days as Iraqi forces have pushed into more densely populated areas, where they cannot rely as much on airstrikes and shelling because of the risk posed to civilians, who have been told to stay in their homes. "There are a lot of civilians and we are trying to protect them," said Lt. Col. Muhanad al-Timimi. "This is one of the hardest battles that we've faced till now." Some civilians are fleeing the combat zone, while IS militants are holding others back for use as human shields, making it harder for Iraqi commanders on the ground to get approval for requested U.S.-led coalition airstrikes.
A US jet has shot down an Iranian-made drone operated by forces backing the Syrian government in the south of the country, American officials say. The F-15 plane downed the drone around 00:30 on Tuesday (21:30 GMT Monday) north-east of Tanf, according to a US military statement. The drone was thought to be armed and threatening US troops on the ground, officials said. Tanf, near the borders with Iraq and Jordan, is home to a coalition base. If confirmed, it is the second downing of a drone this month.
The Pentagon has revealed a new AI system designed to lead the hunt for Islamic State militants in Iraq and Syria. Codenamed Project Maven, it will analyse aerial surveillance video to look for patterns that can help operators. It comes as military bosses say the thousands of military and civilian intelligence analysts are'overwhelmed' by the amount of video being recorded over the battlefield by drones with high resolution cameras. A US Air Force MQ-9 Reaper unmanned aerial vehicle: Military bosses say intelligence analysts are'overwhelmed' by the amount of video being recorded over the battlefield by drones with high resolution cameras. 'We have to tackle the problem a different way,' Air Force Lt. Gen. John N.T.'Jack' Shanahan, director for defense intelligence for warfighter support, and the man tasked with finding the new technology, told Defense One.
With so much discussion over foreign policy and immigration concerns from Muslim-majority nations after the inauguration of Donald Trump, there might be some confusion about how the U.S. is fighting terrorism in the Middle East. The U.S. may not be in a direct war with anyone other than the Islamic State, also known as ISIS, but there is still a military presence in multiple countries carried over from previous administrations. The number of combat troops has dipped due to drone warfare, but President Trump, who campaigned on being tougher on ISIS, has said he would be willing to send up to 30,000 troops to Iraq and Syria. However, he inherited a military presence in not just those two countries, but other hotspots, as well. Just days after the Sept. 11 attacks, Congress and President George W. Bush authorized the use of military force to overthrow the Taliban.