News Briefs – December 14, 2018


Lockheed Martin to provide LA with clean drinking water

Lockheed Martin has agreed to supply 1.5 billion gallons of clean drinking water a year to the Los Angeles Department of Water and Power under a deal involving its cleanup of a contaminated groundwater site.
The DWP announced the agreement Dec. 12.
Lockheed Martin has been working to clean up an LA-area Superfund site contaminated by chemicals when it and other companies built airplanes and other machinery there decades ago.
Under the DWP agreement, Lockheed Martin will pay to treat groundwater pumped from North Hollywood wells.
The DWP says the deal should save ratepayers about $170 million over the next 30 years. AP

Iraqi jets target Islamic State meeting dens in Syria

The Iraqi military says its jets have bombed two Islamic State positions inside Syria that were being used for as meeting places for the jihadist group.
Iraq’s Joint Operations Command said in a statement on Dec. 11 that at least 30 IS members were present in one of the locations targeted and another 14 members in the other. The statement said the information was gathered from intelligence sources.
Both positions were in the area of Sousa, near the border with Iraq.
Iraqi forces have been firing on IS positions across the border in eastern Syria to support the U.S.-backed Syrian Democratic Forces in their push against the last IS pocket along the border. AP

Turkey says it will launch new Syria offensive within days

Turkey will launch a new military operation against U.S-backed Kurdish fighters in Syria “within a few days,” President Recep Tayyip Erdogan said Wednesday, a move that is likely to further strain ties between NATO allies Turkey and the United States.
Turkey has in the past month shelled Kurdish positions across the border in Syria, east of the Euphrates River, and has threatened to drive out the Syrian Kurdish militia known as the People’s Protection Units, or YPG.
The YPG is the main component of a Kurdish-led militia that rolled back the Islamic State group with the help of the U.S.-led coalition. Ankara views the YPG as terrorists because of their links to the Kurdish insurgency inside Turkey. U.S. troops are deployed with the Kurdish fighters in northeastern Syria, in part to prevent clashes with Turkey.
“We will begin our operation to rescue the east of the Euphrates (river) from the separatist organization within a few days,” Erdogan said. “Our target is not the American soldiers it is terror organizations that are active in the region.”
He called on the United States not to allow “deep” disagreements over Syria policy to impede future cooperation between the two countries.
Erdogan’s statement, at an address to a defense industry meeting, follows U.S. moves to set up observation posts in northern Syria, despite Turkey’s objections. Turkey says the observation posts are aimed at protecting the YPG.
“We know that the aim of the radar and observation posts set up by the United States (east of the Euphrates) is not to protect our country from terrorists, but to protect the terrorists from Turkey,” Erdogan said.
Turkish forces have already waged two cross-border campaigns against Syrian Kurdish forces, in 2016 and earlier this year. AP

Slovakia inks deal to buy 14 F-16s from U.S. Lockheed Martin

Slovakia is to buy 14 F-16 military jets from Lockheed Martin as it seeks to replace Soviet-era jets.
Slovak Defense Minister Peter Gajdos signed the contract on Dec. 12 with Lockheed Martin vice president of international business development Ana Wugofski.
The deal involves F-16 Block 70/72 fighter jets. They are meant to replace the obsolete Soviet-made MiG-29 jets that Slovakia’s air force has used.
The first four jets are scheduled to be delivered by 2022, the remainder the following year.
Prime Minister Peter Pellegrini says his country will pay over 1.6 billion euros ($1.8 billion) for the aircraft. The deal also includes ammunition, the training of pilots and other personnel and logistics services. AP

Russian nuclear-capable bombers fly over Caribbean Sea

The Russian military says two of its nuclear-capable strategic bombers have flown over the Caribbean Sea during a 10-hour training mission.
A pair of Tu-160 bombers arrived at Maiquetia airport outside Caracas Dec. 10. The Russian Defense Ministry said they were escorted by Venezuelan fighter jets during part of the training mission on Wednesday to practice interaction.
The Tu-160 is capable of carrying conventional or nuclear-tipped cruise missiles with a range of 3,410 miles.
The Russian bombers’ deployment came as Russia-U.S. relations have worsened because of the allegations of Russian meddling in the 2016 U.S. election and other issues.
Russia has bristled at U.S. and its NATO allies deploying troops and weapons near its borders. AP

Serbia warns Kosovo army will substantially worsen tensions

Serbia’s president has warned that the planned forming of a Kosovo army will significantly worsen tensions in the region.
Kosovo’s parliament is expected to approve on Dec. 14 legislation turning an existing 4,000-strong security force into an expanded, lightly armed army.
After his talks with the head the U.N. mission in Kosovo on Dec. 13, Serbian President Aleksandar Vucic said that while Serbia will “do its best to preserve peace and stability,” the “illegal” formation of the Kosovo army will “substantially worsen” tensions in the region.
Serbia alleges that the army’s main purpose is to ethnically cleanse Kosovo’s Serbian-dominated north, a claim strongly denied by Pristina.
Kosovo’s 2008 declaration of independence is not recognized by Serbia. AP