American hostage Danny Burch freed in Yemen

Burch was seized in the capital Sanaa which is controlled by Houthi militants. (File/AFP)
Updated 26 February 2019
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American hostage Danny Burch freed in Yemen

WASHINGTON: US President Donald Trump announced Monday that an American had been freed after being held hostage in Yemen for 18 months.
Danny Burch has been “recovered and reunited with his wife and children,” Trump said in a tweet.

Trump did not say who had been holding Burch but he expressed appreciation for the “support of the United Arab Emirates in bringing Danny home.”
According to Burch’s family, the Texas native, who has lived in Yemen for more than two decades, was kidnapped in the capital Sanaa in September 2017.
A number of foreigners have been abducted in Yemen by the country’s heavily armed tribes for use as bargaining chips in local disputes and there have also been some kidnappings by Al-Qaeda.
In a telephone call with AFP at the time of his kidnapping, Burch’s wife, Nadia Forsa Al-Harazi, urged Houthi Shiite rebels to secure the release of her husband.
She said her husband had lived in the capital for more than 20 years and the couple had three children.
Trump said “recovering American hostages is a priority of my (administration).”
“With Danny’s release, we have now secured freedom for 20 American captives since my election victory,” he said. “We will not rest as we continue our work to bring the remaining American hostages back home!“


US bolsters Middle East force with 1,500 troops as Pentagon blames Iran for tanker attacks

Updated 31 min 40 sec ago
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US bolsters Middle East force with 1,500 troops as Pentagon blames Iran for tanker attacks

  • Donald Trump says the additional troops would serve a 'mostly protective' role
  • The US began reinforcing its presence in the Arabian Gulf region earlier this month

WASHINGTON: The US will strengthen its force in the Middle East with 1,500 extra troops, Donald Trump said Friday as the Pentagon blamed Iran for an attack on oil tankers off the coast of the UAE.

"We want to have protection in the Middle East," Trump said as he left the White House for a trip to Japan. "We're going to be sending a relatively small number of troops, mostly protective.
"Some very talented people are going to the Middle East right now. And we'll see what happens."

Shortly after his comments, the Pentagon accused Iran's Revolutionary Guards (IRGC) of being directly responsible for attacks on tankers off the UAE earlier this month, describing it as part of a "campaign" by Tehran driving new US deployments.
"The attack against the shipping in Fujairah we attribute it to the IRGC," said Rear Admiral Michael Gilday, the director of the Joint Staff, adding the Pentagon attributed limpet mines used in the attack to the IRGC. He declined to describe "the means of delivery" of the mines.

The 1,500 extra troops will be made up of a deployment of 900 more forces, including engineers, and the extension of a tour by some 600 personnel manning Patriot missiles.

Officials said earlier that members of Congress were notified following a White House meeting Thursday to discuss Pentagon proposals to bolster the force in the region.
Earlier this week, officials said that Pentagon planners had outlined plans that could have sent up to 10,000 military reinforcements to the region. Acting Defense Secretary Patrick Shanahan later said planners had not settled on a figure.
The US began reinforcing its presence in the Arabian Gulf region this month in response to what it said was a threat from Iran.

*With AP and Reuters