By Masoud Popalzai
Kabul, Afghanistan (CNN) - The female police officer who killed a U.S. contractor in Kabul on Monday is an Iranian national, an Afghan government official said Tuesday.
Sediq Seddiqi, an Afghan Interior Ministry spokesman, said the Afghan police officer is an Iranian citizen who met her Afghan husband in Iran. After they eventually went to live in Afghanistan, he managed to help her illegally obtain Afghan citizenship.
The United States has long been concerned about Iranian terror-related activity against U.S. targets. But Seddiqi said he doesn't have evidence to link the attacker to militant groups carrying out acts of terror. She was arrested and was questioned, he said.FULL STORY
The United States is to deploy 400 troops and two Patriot air-defense missile batteries to Turkey in the coming weeks to defend against potential threats from Syria, defense officials said Friday.
Defense Secretary Leon Panetta signed the order en route to Turkey, where he is visiting Incirlik Air Base, Pentagon spokesman George Little told reporters.
Little declined to give details of where the two batteries would be located, or to specify how long the deployment would last.
"The purpose of this deployment is to signal very strongly that the United States, working closely with our NATO allies is going to support the defense of Turkey, especially with potential threats emanating from Syria," he said.
Turkey and NATO insist the Patriot missile deployment would be used only for defense.
CNN's Laura Smith-Spark contributed to this report.
By Jill Dougherty reporting from Brussels
A European diplomat tells CNN says NATO will decide Tuesday to approve Patriot missiles for Turkey. Turkey has asked for the air defense system as protection from Syria.
"It is a political decision," the diplomat tells CNN, "a sign of solidarity for Turkey."
A Russian official, speaking with CNN on background, claims the Patriot systems are more symbolic than militarily necessary. Echoing comments by Russian president Vladimir Putin that Syria, embroiled in a brutal civil war, has no interest in attacking Turkey.
Editor's note: CNN's Jill Dougherty is traveling with Secretary of State Hillary Clinton in Europe. Dougherty filed this report from Prague.
By Jill Dougherty
A senior administration official traveling with Secretary of State Hillary Clinton to Europe ruled out any discussion at the upcoming NATO conference of the potential use of U.S. Patriot missiles in Turkey to impose a no-fly zone over Syria.
"A no-fly zone is not on the agenda for any NATO talks this week," the official told reporters aboard Clinton's plane.
"Patriot missiles, if they're deployed, would be deployed to protect Turkish airspace," the official said. "Turkey is a NATO ally and if a plane or missile crossed into Turkish airspace, these assets would be there to defend territory and airspace."
"We have said we're always prepared to look at ways in which we can help the people of Syria," the official added. "NATO has not decided to implement the no-fly zone but that's a separate discussion."
A NATO reconnaissance team is expected to survey the Turkish-Syrian border on Tuesday to prepare for the possible deployment of Patriot anti-aircraft missile batteries along the frontier.
Turkey has turned against its former ally, asking its fellow NATO members last week for Patriot missiles to bolster its air defenses because of several Turkish deaths blamed on Syrian forces.
A delegation of Turkish and NATO officials is scheduled to begin a site survey Tuesday to determine where to deploy the batteries, the Turkish military said Monday.FULL STORY
From Ivan Watson
In a potential escalation of the Syrian conflict, Turkey asked NATO on Wednesday for Patriot missiles to bolster its air defenses against its southern neighbor.
A letter to NATO included the "formal request" that the alliance send "air defense elements," according to a Turkish government statement that cited "the threats and risks posed by the continuing crisis in Syria to our national security."
The statement added that the NATO Council would convene "shortly" to consider the matter.
NATO Secretary-General Anders Fogh Rasmussen said in a Twitter post that the request would be considered without delay.
In a statement on Wednesday, Rasmussen said the letter from Turkey requested Patriot missiles that would "contribute to the de-escalation of the crisis along NATO's south-eastern border" and serve as "a concrete demonstration of alliance solidarity and resolve."
Rasmussen's statement said three NATO countries have available Patriot missiles - Germany, the Netherlands and the United States - and it would be up to them to decide if they can deploy them and for how long.
By Esprit Smith, reporting from Kabul
A suicide bomber rammed an explosives-laden truck into the wall of a joint NATO-Afghan army base Wednesday, wounding 45 Afghan soldiers, officials said.
The base at Paktia province also came under indirect fire after the attack, according to Lt. Junior Grade Amy Hession of NATO's International Security Assistance Force.FULL STORY
By Chris Lawrence
Top U.S. military commanders could soon be heading to new jobs with steep challenges.
President Barack Obama has nominated Gen. John Allen to become the next Supreme Allied Commander Europe, in which he would oversee NATO military operations.
Taking Allen's place in Afghanistan would be Marine Corps Gen. Joseph Dunford, who would see the war through some of its final fighting seasons.
"If confirmed by the Senate, he will lead our forces through key milestones in our effort that will allow us to bring the war to a close responsibly, as Afghanistan takes full responsibility for its security," Obama said in a statement.
By Masoud Popalzai
A suicide attack in eastern Afghanistan Monday killed 12 people, including three NATO service members and four Afghan police, and wounded around 50 others, a spokesman for the Afghan interior ministry said.
The bomber targeted a joint patrol of ISAF forces and Afghan police, using an explosives-packed motorcycle, according to Sediq Seddiqi, a spokesman for the ministry.FULL STORY
By Larry Shaughnessy
One of Washington's foremost analysts of military issues has some harsh words about Secretary of Defense Leon Panetta's take on the insider attack problem in Afghanistan, calling it "absurd."
During a recent trip to Japan, Panetta was asked about U.S. and other International Security Assistance Force troops being killed by members of the Afghan security forces, or insurgents dressed like them.
He said, "And we think, frankly, it is kind of a last gasp effort to be able to not only target our forces, but to try to create chaos, because they've been unable to regain any of the territory that they have lost." On Thursday, Panetta reiterated his point during a briefing with reporters, saying, "It's near the end of their effort to really fully fight back."
"Quite frankly i think that most intelligent people and military people would privately think that Secretary Panetta's comments are absurd, perhaps harmful. Because they just can't be taken seriously," said Anthony Cordesman a senior analyst at CSIS, a major Washington think tank, and a recipient of Department of Defense Distinguished Civilian Service Award for his work at the Pentagon before joining CSIS. "They are not at the last gasp, all they really have to do is at this point outwait us, constantly put pressure on areas that give them political visibility. They don't have to defeat ISAF, it's leaving."
While Cordesman does not agree with Panetta's remarks, he says that doesn't mean the Taliban is on the road to victory.
"The fact that statement clearly is untrue doesn't mean that necessarily the Taliban can win," Cordesman said. "Whether this will give them control of the country or not is something nobody can determine. It's a long way from talking about last gasp."
Even Panetta conceded Thursday that insider attacks may not be the Taliban's final arrow in their insurgent quiver. "Whether or not, you know, it's the end of their bag of tactics to come at us I think is still an open question."