Metro-East News

Roger That: CIA director says Islamic State has access to chemical weapons

CIA Director John Brennan said that Islamic State fighters have used chemical weapons and have the capability to make small quantities of chlorine and mustard gas, CBS News reported.

“We have a number of instances where ISIL has used chemical munitions on the battlefield,” Brennan told CBS News, which released excerpts of an interview to air in full on the “60 Minutes” news program on Sunday.

The network added that he told “60 Minutes” the CIA believes that the IS group has the ability to make small amounts of mustard or chlorine gas for weapons.

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Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu said Feb. 13 that Turkey and Saudi Arabia may join forces for ground operations against the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant group (ISIL) in Syria, according to Defense News.

Although a senior Saudi military official said the Royal Saudi Air Force deployed fighter jets to the Incirlik Air Base in Turkey, Turkish officials say the deployment will take place in the coming weeks.

Brigadier Gen. Ahmed Al-Assiri, consultant to Saudi Minister of Defense Prince Mohammed Bin Salman, confirmed to Saudi-owned news station Al-Arabiya the arrival of Saudi Air Force jets at the Turkish base.

“Our jet fighters and crews have been deployed to the Incirlik Air Base,” he said. “We have deployed them as part of the international coalition led by Washington,” he added.

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The U.S. military denies reports from residents and rebels in southwestern Somalia that a suspected U.S. drone with six missiles crashed Monday in a rebel-held village in the Gedo region.

Spokesman for the U.S. Africa Command, Chuck Prichard, said all their “assets in this area are accounted for and we have no indication that any were involved in this reported incident.”

Al-Shabab, Somalia’s Islamic extremists, claimed on their radio station that their fighters have seized the crashed drone with the missiles. This has not been independently verified.

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Military Times is reporting that least 23 veterans, troops or family members who called the Veterans Crisis Line in fiscal 2014 were transferred to a voicemail system and their calls never returned, according to a Veterans Affairs Department Inspector General report.

The VA watchdog’s investigation into the hotline’s performance launched last year also found that the centers responsible for the voicemail errors, who were contractors hired to provide backup services when the VA-run Crisis Line is operating at peak, may not have trained their counselors adequately to answer calls from those experiencing a mental health crisis.

Mike Fitzgerald: 618-239-2533, @MikeFitz3000

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