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21-day quarantine ordered for U.S. troops on Ebola mission to Africa

Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel signed an order Wednesday requiring all U.S. troops returning from Ebola-stricken West Africa to be quarantined for 21 days to guarantee they don't have the virus.

The Joint Chiefs of Staff had recommended on Tuesday that all military personnel involved in the humanitarian mission in West Africa should undergo “controlled, supervised monitoring.”

The Pentagon’s move goes beyond precautions recommended by the White House and Centers for Disease Control and Preventions for doctors and other civilians returning from areas with Ebola.

President Obama said Tuesday that the military situation is different, however, because the troops are not in West Africa "voluntarily."

Some 1,030 U.S. troops are currently building isolation wards, training healthcare workers, processing laboratory samples and providing other assistance in Liberia, the hardest-hit country, and neighboring Senegal, where the military has set up a staging area to move supplies.

U.S. troops are not...

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Pentagon unveils name for ISIS battle: Operation Inherent Resolve

The Pentagon has finally given a name to the international military effort against Islamic State militants: “Operation Inherent Resolve.”

The name was revealed by the Joint Chiefs of Staff office Wednesday, more than two months after the U.S. began airstrikes against the Sunni extremists in Iraq and later in Syria.

It's not clear why the Pentagon delayed naming a military campaign that now involves more than 20 countries, more than 300 airstrikes and more than 1,400 U.S. military personnel in Iraq.

An operation name is used for numerous purposes, including funding requests and military medals. For instance, the Pentagon referred to the war in Iraq as Operation Iraqi Freedom until 2010, and still calls its Afghanistan campaign Operation Enduring Freedom.

If "Operation Inherent Resolve" is somewhat less ambitious, the unveiling comes a day after military leaders from 22 nations met with top U.S. military brass outside Washington in an effort to coordinate strategy and define missions for...

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U.S. and allies carry out more airstrikes near Kobani, Syria

U.S. and Arab allies again pounded Islamic State strongholds near Kobani, a Syrian border city on the brink of falling to the militants.

Warplanes from the U.S. and United Arab Emirates carried out six strikes Tuesday and early Wednesday near the besieged town. The attacks were in addition to five strikes the day before.

Late Wednesday, U.S. Central Command announced that U.S. and Jordanian aircraft conducted eight more strikes near Kobani, destroying five Islamic State armed vehicles, a supply depot, a command and control compound, a logistics compound and eight occupied barracks. A ninth barracks was damaged.

But U.S. officials cautioned that airstrikes were of limited effectiveness in defending the town.

"Airstrikes alone are not ... going to save the town of Kobani," Pentagon spokesman Rear Adm. John Kirby said at a news conference Wednesday. "We know that."

Kobani, also known as Ayn al-Arab, has been facing an onslaught from three sides since last month, forcing nearly 130,000, most...

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Pentagon opens second mobile laboratory in fight against Ebola

Moving to help check the Ebola epidemic in West Africa, the Pentagon on Friday opened its second mobile laboratory in Liberia, the country hit hardest by the deadly disease.

Three weeks after President Obama announced that the Pentagon would help respond to the growing crisis, military officials insist they are making progress despite severe logistical difficulties in the impoverished region.

“We are supporting U.S. government and international relief efforts by leveraging our unique U.S. military capabilities,” Gen. Martin Dempsey, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, told reporters Friday. “Specifically, we're establishing command and control nodes, logistics hubs, training for healthcare workers, and providing engineering support.”

At the same time, a Pentagon spokesman made it clear that U.S. troops would seek to avoid any contact with people who have contracted Ebola.

“There’s no expectation at all that our troops are going to be working in high-risk areas or close to Ebola patients,”...

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Arab allies took lead role in airstrikes on oil refineries

Arab allies were responsible for the majority of airstrikes against the Islamic State militant group’s oil refineries on Wednesday, flying more warplanes and dropping more bombs than U.S. aircraft, a Pentagon official said.

Arab nations' military involvement in the mission has been crucial for the Obama administration, which wants to avoid accusations it was again intervening in the Middle East in the face of Arab opposition.

Fighter jets and drones belonging to the U.S., Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates dropped bombs on a dozen oil refineries in eastern Syria Wednesday in an attempt to begin dismantling the financial bulwark that has made Islamic State one of the world’s wealthiest terrorist groups.

Saudi Arabia and the UAE flew 16 fighter jets in the air campaign and dropped 23 bombs, which represented 80% of the tonnage dropped on the targets, U.S. officials said.

“Largely that comes from the fact that the bombs they were dropping were of greater weight,” Pentagon spokesman...

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Pentagon: No evidence that airstrikes killed civilians despite reports

Despite claims by activists that U.S. and allied Arab airstrikes killed up to two dozen civilians this week in Syria, a Pentagon official said the initial damage assessment did not confirm any civilian casualties. 

Army Col. Steve Warren, a Pentagon spokesman, said military intelligence is still incomplete, but the before and after imagery of the Islamic State and Al Qaeda sites hit by missiles and bombs did not show any civilians.

“We took all available mitigating actions to reduce civilian casualties," he said. "Right now we believe there were no civilian casualties.”

Asked whether videos posted on social media sites that show workers trying to save civilians trapped under rubble were faked, Warren answered, “Yes.”

“We come to that statement by examining our battle damage assessment up until now,” Warren said.

In Syria, estimates varied of how many civilians were killed, from eight to 24.

Video showing people picking through flattened buildings emerged Tuesday after heavy airstrikes...

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