Israel hints it could hit Iran's 'air force' in Syria

The Japan Times

JERUSALEM – Israel released details on Tuesday about what it described as an Iranian "air force" deployed in neighboring Syria, including civilian planes suspected of transferring arms, a signal that these could be attacked should tensions with Tehran escalate. Iran, along with Damascus and its big-power backer Russia, blamed Israel for an April 9 airstrike on a Syrian air base, T-4, that killed seven Iranian Revolutionary Guards Corps (IRGC) members. Iranian officials have promised unspecified reprisals. Israeli media ran satellite images and a map of five Syrian air bases allegedly used to field Iranian drones or cargo aircraft, as well as the names of three senior IRGC officers suspected of commanding related projects, such as missile units. The information came from the Israeli military, according to a wide range of television and radio stations and news websites.


U.S. forces shoot down Iranian drone over Syria as fighting escalates

Los Angeles Times

Democrats tie up Senate floor to protest Republicans' secrecy in writing healthcare bill Senate Democrats take to the chamber floor to decry the GOP's secret talks on healthcare bill President Trump's lawyer insists Trump is not under investigation, despite president's own tweets Trump and the Goldwater Rule: Should mental health pros weigh in on the president? Often seen but not heard, Trump son-in-law Jared Kushner speaks at White House tech event. Senate Democrats take to the chamber floor to decry the GOP's secret talks on healthcare bill President Trump's lawyer insists Trump is not under investigation, despite president's own tweets Trump and the Goldwater Rule: Should mental health pros weigh in on the president? Often seen but not heard, Trump son-in-law Jared Kushner speaks at White House tech event. U.S. forces shoot down Iranian drone over Syria as fighting escalates A U.S. fighter jet Tuesday shot down an armed Iranian drone supporting Syrian government forces in southern Syria, marking the third American air-to-air shoot-down this month.


U.S. launched cyberattacks on Iranian military computers last week

The Japan Times

WASHINGTON - U.S. military cyberforces launched a strike against Iranian military computer systems on Thursday as President Donald Trump backed away from plans for a more conventional military strike in response to Iran's downing of a U.S. surveillance drone, U.S. officials said Saturday. Two officials told The Associated Press that the strikes were conducted with approval from Trump. A third official confirmed the broad outlines of the strike. All spoke on condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to speak publicly about the operation. The cyberattacks -- a contingency plan developed over weeks amid escalating tensions -- disabled Iranian computer systems that controlled its rocket and missile launchers, the officials said.


U.S. Navy reports another close call with Iran drone

The Japan Times

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 street fighting hard slog as civilians cower; recreational drones used to spot Islamic State threats

The Japan Times

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.