February 28, 2017
From Washington, this is VOA news. I'm David DeForest reporting.
U.S. President Donald Trump called Monday for a ($)54 billion annual increase in defense spending. He described the 10 percent jump as a "landmark event" aimed at assuring the world of, in his words, "American strength, security and resolve."
"And it will include a historic increase in defense spending to rebuild the depleted military of the United States of America at a time we most need it."
The president said the United States has to start winning wars again. Mr. Trump [said] told the nation's governors that he will outline his spending priorities in greater detail in an address to Congress late Tuesday.
The Pentagon says it has sent the White House a preliminary plan to defeat Islamic State extremists in Iraq and Syria. A spokesman says Defense Secretary Jim Mattis will brief senior administration officials.
He described the document as a framework for a broader plan aimed at countering the extremist group beyond Syria and Iraq.
He did not provide details.
Syrian opposition activists say 11 people were killed Monday by airstrikes on rebel-held Idlib province. They also say pro-government forces Monday drove out Islamic State forces from villages near the Turkish frontier, blocking Turkish-backed forces from reaching the de facto IS capital Raqqa.
The reports were not independently confirmed.
Iraqi forces battling Islamic State militants reached a key bridge in the city of Mosul. They are pushing forward with their week-old offensive to clear IS from the western side of the city.
Officials said pro-government forces were in control of a section of what is known as the fourth bridge, or the southernmost bridge going across the Tigris River.
This is VOA news.
The chairman of the U.S. House Intelligence Committee said Monday he has no evidence of improper contacts between officials working on President Donald Trump's campaign and Russian agents.
Congressman Devin Nunes told reporters he has no plans to expand an investigation already underway.
However, the top Democrat on the intelligence panel, Congressman Adam Schiff, later said no conclusions had yet been reached on the matter.
"Later today, we will reach final agreement on the scope of the issues that we will be investigating and have already begun investigating in the scope that investigation will include any inclusion between Russian and U.S. persons, including persons who may have been affiliated with the Trump campaign."
Meanwhile, lawmakers in both the U.S. House and Senate are looking into findings by the U.S. intelligence community that Russia meddled in the U.S. election.
President Trump said Monday there is "nothing to love" about the national health care plan championed by his predecessor, Barack Obama.
In separate meetings with the country's governors and insurance company executives, Mr. Trump described the seven-year-old Affordable Care Act, popularly known as Obamacare, as, in his words, "a failed disaster." The president offered no particular strategy for the repeal and replacement of Obamacare.
Gambia's President Adama Barrow has replaced the head of his nation's military as well as several senior officers.
The military was key to maintaining the rule of former President Yahya Jammeh.
The director of prisons was arrested along with nine men suspected of being a part of Jammeh's alleged death squads.
A German hostage was executed in the Philippines by the Islamic militant group, Abu Sayyaf, after a ransom deadline lapsed.
A Video of the execution of Jürgen Kantner was circulated Monday by the SITE Intelligence Group, which monitors terrorist activity.
The German man was kidnapped last November while sailing in the waters off the southern Philippines. Abu Sayyaf militants demanded a $600,000 ransom for his release, and the deadline to make the payment expired Sunday.
Afghanistan's Taliban says an American drone has killed one of its senior commanders in northern Afghanistan.
Mullah Abdul Salam and several of his key commanders were killed Sunday in the Dashti Archi district of Kunduz.
A suspected terrorist has been shot and killed by police in Indonesia after an improvised bomb exploded near a government building in the city of Bandung.
West Java police chief Anton Charliyan says no one was injured when a pressure cooker-rigged device exploded Monday in a nearby vacant lot.
From the VOA news center in Washington, I'm David DeForest.
That's the latest world news from VOA.