September 2016 – SOUTH KOREA – Two U.S. supersonic B-1 Lancer strategic bombers flew over South Korea on Tuesday morning in a show of force and solidarity with its ally amid heightened tension following North Korea’s fifth nuclear test on Friday.
The two bombers conducted a low-altitude flight over Osan Air Base in South Korea, which is 77 km (48 miles) from the Demilitarized Zone border with the North and about 40 km (miles) from the South’s capital Seoul. The scheduled fly-over was delayed from Monday due to weather conditions in Guam, where the bombers are stationed. South Korea’s Yonhap news agency said heavy crosswinds prevented the jets from take off. –Reuters
Philippines president tell U.S. Special Forces to leave: President Rodrigo Duterte on Monday called for the withdrawal of U.S. Special Forces troops from a group of islands in the southern Philippines, saying their presence could complicate offensives against Islamist militants notorious for beheading Westerners. Duterte, who was in the spotlight last week over a televised tirade against the United States and President Barack Obama, said the Americans still in Mindanao were high-value targets for the Islamic State-linked Abu Sayyaf militants as counter-insurgency operations intensify. “They have to go,” Duterte said in a speech during an oath-taking ceremony for new officials. “I do not want a rift with America. But they have to go.”
He added: “Americans, they will really kill them; they will try to kidnap them to get ransom.” The comments by Duterte, a former southern mayor known for his terse words and volatile temperament, add to uncertainty about what impact his rise to the presidency this year will have on one of Washington’s most important alliances in Asia. A spokesman for the U.S. State Department, John Kirby, said it was not aware of any official communication by Manila calling for a withdrawal. He said Washington remained committed to the alliance. Another U.S. official said there were only a “handful” of Special Forces in the Mindanao acting in limited liaison roles. Obama canceled a planned meeting with Duterte at last week’s ASEAN summit after Duterte appeared to call him a “son of a bitch.” The two did eventually meet briefly and on Friday Duterte said he told Obama the remark was not directed against him. –Reuters