WASHINGTON (AP) – The Pentagon stated it was moving to increase the number of American troops in Iraq amid new strikes this week that killed the Islamic State’s finance minister and other senior leaders. Still, top U.S. defense officials say the deaths won’t “break the back” of the extremist group, which is in a fierce fight for an ancient city in Syria and claimed responsibility for bombing a soccer stadium in Iraq.
Defense Secretary Ash Carter said the U.S. progress in eliminating members of the IS “cabinet” was hampering its ability to conduct and inspire attacks against the West. The announcement came as the battle to retake the Syrian city of Palmyra entered its third day and Iraqi forces continued their march to recapture Mosul. A suicide bombing in a soccer stadium south of Baghdad, killing nearly 30 people, underscored the difficult fight ahead.
LOS ANGELES (AP) – Within hours of ditching 70 pounds of cocaine at a security checkpoint and bolting barefoot out of the main Los Angeles airport, an off-duty flight attendant was flying across the country after clearing security at the same airport the next morning, law enforcement officials stated. Marsha Gay Reynolds, 31, did not do anything out of the ordinary to get back on a plane, officials said, describing how she used an airline badge with her real name to board another flight at one of the nation’s busiest airports.
Communication lapses, bureaucratic protocols and special security privileges afforded airline workers all contributed to Reynolds remaining out of the grasp of law enforcement until she surrendered four days later at Kennedy Airport in New York.
BRUSSELS (AP) – Police raided Brussels neighborhoods in operations described as linked to last week’s bombings as well as a suspected new plot in France. They detained three people and shot two of them in the leg, including one who was carrying a suspicious bag while being accompanied by a young girl.
Gunfire and two blasts rang out in the Schaerbeek district, the same area where police had earlier found explosives and bomb-making material in an apartment used by the suicide attackers who killed 31 people and wounded 270 on Tuesday, March 22 in the airport and subway.