News Briefs – September 30, 2016


Russian military says it’s ready to talk to US about Aleppo

The Russian military said Sept. 28 it’s ready to resume contacts with its U.S. counterparts over the situation in Syria, even as U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry threatened to cut all cooperation with Moscow on Syria unless an onslaught on Aleppo ends.
Lt. Gen. Viktor Poznikhir of the military’s General Staff said that Russian experts are ready to travel to Geneva to restart consultations with the U.S. to “search for possible ways of normalizing the situation in Aleppo.”
A U.S.-Russian truce in Syria has collapsed and the Syrian government forces backed by Russian warplanes have launched an attempt to take control of the rebel-held neighborhoods of Aleppo.
Kerry said Wednesday the U.S. is preparing to “suspend U.S.-Russia bilateral engagement on Syria,” including talks on a possible counter-extremist partnership, unless Russian and Syrian government attacks on Aleppo end. More than 250 people are believed to have been killed in the besieged city in the last week.
Poznikhir didn’t make any reference to Kerry’s statement, saying only that Russia was ready to continue discussions.
“It’s expected that Russian experts will be sent to Geneva shortly to resume consultations with the American side,” he said. ”We hope that American partners are also ready for joint work.”
The U.S.-Russian deal brokered Sept. 9 envisaged cooperation between the two militaries against the Islamic State group and al-Qaida’s branch in Syria if the declared cease-fire held, but it collapsed amid renewed fighting and mutual acrimony. The U.S. blamed Russia for an attack on a humanitarian convoy outside Aleppo, accusations Moscow has denied.
Poznikhir said the Russian military got new information about Syrian rebels’ involvement in the attack on the convoy, but he didn’t offer any details.
Like other Russian officials before him, he has blamed the rebels for the collapse of the truce, adding that an increasing number of Syrian opposition units have integrated with al-Qaida’s affiliate in Syria. He also alleged that the militants are preparing to strike sections of Aleppo with chemical weapons to heap the blame on the government.
“It has become known to us that terrorist groups are preparing to strike Syrian army positions and residential quarters in the eastern part of Aleppo with projectiles loaded with toxic agents as a provocation, in order to put the blame on the government forces,” he said. AP

After 170 years, remains of U.S. troops return from Mexico

Remains of U.S. troops who died in the Mexican-American War are being returned from Mexico for forensic study that might determine where they were from and how they died.
Several sets of remains were expected to arrive at Dover Air Force Base, Del., home to a military mortuary.
Mortuary affairs spokesman Maj. Tim Wade says the remains from Monterrey, Mexico, will be welcomed with a solemn ceremony. Flag-draped cases holding the remains will be moved from and airplane and transferred to vehicles to be driven to the mortuary.
The Army says troops from several states, including Mississippi, Ohio, Tennessee and Texas, fought in the Battle of Monterrey in 1846. Archaeologists reported discovering 10 sets of skeletal remains in 2011, with bone measurements that indicated they were Americans. AP

Connecticut Senate approves deal to keep Sikorsky Aircraft

A $220 million agreement that would keep Sikorsky Aircraft in Connecticut to produce a new line of heavy cargo helicopters for the U.S. military is moving through the General Assembly.
The Senate voted 35-1 Sept. 28 in favor of the deal. It was recently reached between Sikorsky, Democratic Gov. Dannel P. Malloy’s administration and Sikorsky’s owner, Maryland-based Lockheed Martin. The House is expected to also pass the bill. The deal requires union approval.
Democratic Senate President Martin Looney says Connecticut was competing with Florida, South Carolina, Texas and Georgia. Under the deal, Sikorsky will build nearly 200 CH-53K King Stallion helicopters.
Looney says Connecticut could have lost Sikorsky as work on the Black Hawk helicopter slows.
Republican Sen. Joe Markley opposes the deal, saying Connecticut should instead fix its business climate. AP

Boeing unveils deal to boost Moroccan aerospace industry

Boeing has signed an agreement with Morocco’s government that the North African kingdom hopes will create 8,000 jobs and an additional $1 billion a year in export revenue.
Boeing says it will support a Moroccan plan to build up its aerospace manufacturing sector, encouraging suppliers to set up or expand here. With a high-quality but cheap workforce, Morocco’s aerospace sector has developed rapidly over the past decade.
King Mohammed VI oversaw the signing Sept. 27 in Tangiers.
Boeing Commercial Airplanes CEO Raymond Conner says, “We and our suppliers must reduce costs and improve quality in order to win in the marketplace.” Moroccan Industry Minister Hafid El Alamy says Morocco hopes to bring 120 Boeing suppliers here.
Jobs and the economy will be a key issue in upcoming Moroccan legislative elections. AP