Yemen, U.S. intercept ship with 'large cache of illegal arms'
January 28th, 2013
11:29 PM ET

Yemen, U.S. intercept ship with 'large cache of illegal arms'

By Barbara Starr and Greg Botelho

Yemeni authorities working with the U.S. Navy intercepted a ship carrying a "substantial" cache of "illegal arms" such as surface-to-air missiles, potent explosives and rocket-propelled grenades, a U.S. official and Yemen's government said Monday.

The incident took place in Yemeni territorial waters in the Arabian Sea last Wednesday, according to a statement issued five days later from Yemen's embassy in Washington.

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January 28th, 2013
10:45 AM ET

Obama explains Syria hesitancy

By Kevin Liptak

President Barack Obama is still grappling with what role the United States should play in Syria's bloody conflict, which began nearly two years ago and has claimed the lives of 60,000 people.

In interviews released Sunday, the president pushed back on criticism from political rivals that his administration has been overly detached from foreign unrest, including the ongoing Syrian civil war.

"Muammar Qaddafi probably does not agree with that assessment," Obama told "60 Minutes."

"Syria's a classic example of where our involvement, we want to make sure that not only does it enhance U.S. security, but also that it is doing right by the people of Syria and neighbors like Israel that are going to be profoundly affected by it," he explained later. "And so it's true sometimes that we don't just shoot from the hip."

Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, appearing alongside the president on "60 Minutes," called the situation in Syria a "wicked problem," but argued there was no clear blueprint for American involvement in the country. FULL POST

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Filed under: Barack Obama • Diplomacy • Syria
NATO: Patriot missile battery operational on Syrian border
A leftist clashes with Turkish policemen during a January 21 protest in Adana against NATO's installation of Patriot missiles.
January 28th, 2013
05:32 AM ET

NATO: Patriot missile battery operational on Syrian border

By Melissa Gray and Greg Botelho

The first of six Patriot missile batteries intended to protect Turkey from Syrian threats is operational along the countries' shared border, NATO said Saturday.

The other five batteries, which NATO says are to be for defensive purposes only, are expected to be in place in coming days.

Read more: Mission impossible? Creating the 'Syria of the future' right now

NATO foreign ministers decided in December to deploy the batteries after Syria launched Scud missiles near the Turkish border. In October, errant Syrian artillery shells hit the Turkish border town of Akcakale.

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Filed under: Missile Defense • NATO • Syria • Turkey
U.S. steps up involvement in Mali
A Malian soldier stands amid debris Saturday, January 26, in the key central town of Konna, which has been under French and Malian army control since last week. It was taken on January 11 by Islamist groups.
January 28th, 2013
04:36 AM ET

U.S. steps up involvement in Mali

By Ingrid Formanek and Dana Ford

The United States is intensifying its involvement in Mali, where local and French forces are battling Islamic militants.

It will support the French military by conducting aerial refueling missions, according to the Pentagon, which released a short statement Saturday following a call between Defense Secretary Leon Panetta and French Defense Minister Jean-Yves Le Drian.

"The leaders also discussed plans for the United States to transport troops from African nations, including Chad and Togo, to support the international effort in Mali. Secretary Panetta and Minister Le Drian resolved to remain in close contact as aggressive operations against terrorist networks in Mali are ongoing," it read.

U.S. policy prohibits direct military aid to Mali because the fledgling government is the result of a coup. No support can go to the Malian military directly until leaders are chosen through an election.

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Filed under: Mali • Panetta
Pentagon laying off 46,000 employees
January 28th, 2013
04:31 AM ET

Pentagon laying off 46,000 employees

By Barbara Starr

The Pentagon has begun laying off 46,000 contract and temporary civilian employees in an effort to cut back on military spending, the No. 2 Pentagon official said on Friday.

Full time civilian employees, which number in the hundreds of thousands, also will be furloughed for one day a week for 22 weeks, Deputy Defense Secretary Ash Carter said in an interview with wire service reporters.

His comments were confirmed by a Pentagon spokesman.

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