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Deputy Pentagon Press Secretary Ms. Sabrina Singh Holds an Off-Camera, On-the-Record Press Briefing

DEPUTY PRESS SECRETARY SABRINA SINGH:  Good morning, everyone.  Happy Monday.  It's pretty busy, so just to provide some information upfront and then we'll happily take questions.

So, as probably most folks are tracking, there were four attacks against three separate commercial vessels yesterday that were operating in international waters in the southern Red Sea.

The USS Carney responded to distress calls from the ships and provided assistance.  These attacks represent a direct threat to international commerce and maritime security.  They have jeopardized the lives of international crews representing multiple countries around the world.  And we also believe these attacks, while launched from -- while launched by the Houthis in Yemen, are fully enabled by Iran.

The United States will continue all appropriate responses in full coordination with its international allies and partners.

Also yesterday, on December 3, near Kirkuk, Iraq, forces assigned to combine joint task force Operation Inherent Resolve, engaged five militants preparing to launch a one-way attack drone.  Operation Inherent Resolve forces responded in self-defense with an armed U.S. uncrewed aerial system, killing all five militants and destroying the drone.

Iraqi security forces were notified of the strike and responded to the location, where they confirmed the death of the militants and the destruction of the -- of the drone.

The United States will continue to defend U.S. and coalition personnel from attacks.

And last item here, today combined Japanese and United States teams were able to locate additional remains following the Osprey mishap in Japan.  Dive teams were able to confirm five additional crew members from the original crew of eight.

Currently, two crew members of the five have been successfully recovered by the attending teams.  There is an ongoing combined effort to recover the remaining crew members from the wreckage.

As efforts persist for the location and recovery of the entire crew, the privacy of the families and loved ones impacted by this tragic incident remains a great concern.  The identities of the members located today have yet to be determined and will be released at a later date.

With that I'm happy to take questions.

I think I saw Lita.  Do you want to kick us off or you're lurking, yes?

Q:  Yes, is there any effort ongoing to bolster any security in the Red Sea and in around the BAM?

MS. SINGH:  Not -- I mean, we have our assets, of course, within the CENTCOM AOR, the Carney is there and continues to operate.  But at this time I don't have anything additional to readout in terms of additional efforts or forces being surged to the region.


Q:  Just to follow-up on the Kirkuk attack, can you -- you said it was an uncrewed aerial system?

MS. SINGH:  Yes.

Q:  Was it just one?  And can you say, more specifically, what aircraft that was and the current info?

MS. SINGH:  All I can give is what I read out, unfortunately.  I can tell you that the combined joint taskforce Operation Inherent Resolve forces responded in self-defense.  It was an uncrewed aerial system, and it did kill all five militants.  But -- and destroyed the drone, but that's -- that's all I have for now.

Q:  So, it was a dynamic?  It wasn't -- it wasn't like a pre-planned thing?

MS. SINGH:  It was -- it was not pre-planned in that it was how we've traditionally announced these from previous strikes.  It was something though that was observed by our forces and therefore under, you know, our ability -- for inherent right to self-defense we took action.

Q:  And then, can you just give us an update on the number of injuries in the attacks on U.S. troops in Iraq and Syria so far, please?

MS. SINGH:  I don't have an update on the number of injuries.  That's something that we're working through.  And, as always, we'll update you when I have more of an update.  I believe on the number of attacks we're up to -- oh, thank you, I believe we're up to 76 attacks as of today.  But, as you know, I don't have all the breakdown of every single place.  But we can get you that.  And I know you that is Pete is tracking that well -- Pete and Mac I should say.

Thank you.  Wafaa?

Q:  On the same subject, you said the Iraqi forces were notified of the strike, before or after?  Like, did you coordinate with them?

MS. SINGH:  We -- they were notified of the strike, and I'll just leave it at that.

Q:  Okay, because the Iraqis are, like the Iraqis considering this as a violation of their sovereign -- sovereignty.  So my question is under the security agreement with the Iraqis, does -- the United States has the right to conduct such -- such strikes without coordinating or notifying the government of Iraq?

MS. SINGH:  We have the inherent right to self-defense.  When we saw what these five militants were doing and -- and were preparing to do to take action against our forces, we took action so that they would not harm or damage any infrastructure.  That is inherently our right to self-defense.

We did notify the Iraqi government, and as I mentioned, they did go out and confirm that all five militants were dead, but I'm just going to leave it at that for now.

Q:  On a separate subject, can you please give us an update on the U.S. security assistance to Israel and also on the no conditions status?

MS. SINGH:  Sure.  So we're still, again, continuing to support Israel in what it needs in its -- in its fight against a terrorist network in Gaza, against Hamas.  So security assistance is still flowing.  Is that what you were asking about?  So security assistance, we're still supporting Israel.  We are doing that through FMS and FMF.  Those are the two mechanisms -- or some of the mechanisms that we are supporting Israel with.

Again, we don't put conditions on -- on the security assistance but, I mean, as you heard the Secretary say at the Reagan National Defense Forum, I think he was pretty clear that we are constantly and continue to engage the Israelis on ensuring that they are protecting civilian lives, innocent civilians, and that's something that, you know, he even spoke about -- his near daily conversations with Minister Gallant, that's something that he continues to emphasize.

Yeah, I'll switch it over here.  Phil and then Haley

Q:  Just going back to the Red Sea real quick --

MS. SINGH:  Sure.

Q:  -- you know, why has there been no action taken against the Houthis?  And, you know, is the United States looking at options to retaliate against them?

MS. SINGH:  Well, again, we don't know that these -- well, let me take a step back.  The attacks that we witnessed within the Red Sea, the Carney, as for our initial assessment, was not the intended target.  Now, we are seeing that some of the commercial vessels were.  The Carney took action as a drone was headed in its direction, but again, we can't assess that the Carney, at this time, was the intended target.

If we decide to take action against the Houthis, it will of course be at a time and place of our choosing.  I won't get ahead of the Secretary, I won't get ahead of the President on any actions, but we always reserve the right to -- to respond.

Q:  But, I mean, you know, are you saying then there's been no attack so far against U.S. warships that you can attribute to the Houthis -- attempted attack?

MS. SINGH:  Well, of -- we have engaged certain drones that have gone into the direction of some of our vessels in the Red Sea or as they're transiting.  Again, we continue to assess these attacks.  Right now, especially from the ones yesterday, we don't assess that these were targeted towards the Carney.

Q:  So the -- so the -- so the bottom line is that so far there's been no -- no actions by the Houthis that would warrant a -- a response --

MS. SINGH:  I think there have certainly been irresponsible actions taken by the Houthis, especially when it comes to targeting commercial vessels that are transiting international waters, moving, whether it's grain or other cargo, through international waters.  That certainly is something that is very concerning to us, something that we're going to continue to monitor.  And as you saw just yesterday, the Carney engaged two drones that were coming towards its direction.

So it's absolutely -- just because it's not necessarily targeting U.S. forces doesn't mean that we're concerned by the actions that these Houthis are taking.

(Haley?), yeah?

Q:  Thanks.  Can you talk a little bit -- I know you guys have kind of tried to stay away from directly linking what we're seeing, like, in the Red Sea and Iraq and Syria with what's happening in Israel, but can you just kind of talk about your -- the assessment there of how connected these things are?  Do you see them as just taking advantage of the situation, these groups, or how linked are -- cause obviously this is all happening at the same time, so --

MS. SINGH:  Yeah, I think it's still important though to separate it out.  Even though, yes, they are happening at the same time, it's still important to understand and to focus on what's happening in Israel and within Gaza has not spread out into a wider regional conflict, and that -- that is managing escalation.  That's what we do not want to see have happened in the region.

We have seen attacks on our forces in Iraq and Syria -- again, that's separate.  We have a different mission in both those countries to defeat ISIS and we have responded when we have felt that we need to, when our troops have been attacked.

Q:  What --

MS. SINGH:  And a good example of that was just yesterday, when we took a dynamic action.  When we observed, you know, these five militants setting up an attack on our forces, we took action on them.

Q:  What would constitute that -- you think to -- that -- that assessment to kind of change?  Cause obviously we saw the attacks on U.S. forces stop when the ceasefire started.  Those have obviously started up again.  Clearly, there is a lot of attacks elsewhere on commercial vessels or wherever.  So I guess it's -- can you just kind of explain the thinking there?  Cause we keep saying it's not spreading outside into the region but clearly there's a lot of shit going on in the region, so.

MS. SINGH:  I can't wait for that to be in the transcript.


Yeah -- yes, not to paraphrase, there is a lot going on.


And again, what we don't want to see is the conflict in Israel widen to a regional war.  As of today, it has not.  Yes, we are seeing one-off attacks on our U.S. forces that are certainly backed by -- or supported by groups that get funding and support and training from Iran, but that said, we haven't seen this, again, bring the U.S. into a wider regional war and that's not something that we want to see in the region.

And so I understand that there is a parallel track of, you know, what's happening in Israel and also what's happening in Iraq and Syria.  There are attacks on U.S. forces, there are attacks on commercial vessels.  Again, it's important to -- to note that this conflict has not widened out into a regional conflict.  They -- they are separate.  Our mission in Iraq and Syria is very different to what we're supporting in Israel, when it comes to security assistance.


Q:  Two separate questions.

MS. SINGH:  Sure.

Q:  First, following up on Yemen, is -- a pre-emptive action by the U.S. military is on the table when we are seeing Houthi about to launch an attack?

MS. SINGH:  Yeah, I'm not going to forecast or get ahead of the Secretary and any of his decisions, what have or haven't been made.  We always, as a department, as you know, plan for all sorts of scenarios, but I'm just not going to get ahead of any decisions that the Secretary hasn't made himself.

Q:  Separate topic -- when the White House says this morning to the Congress that we will not have any more money, does it mean that the department doesn't have any capability to send to -- to Ukraine or we don't have the authority to send any more?

MS. SINGH:  You're talking about the letter that our OMB Director sent out?

Q:  Yes.

MS. SINGH:   We submitted our supplemental request to Congress months ago at this point.  That is a urgent supplemental request, not just for Ukraine, Israel, the Indo-Pacific.

And that's something that I think that letter outlined, in that we do not have funds at the end of the year -- like, we will not have additional funds to replenish our stocks, which does impact how we think through PDAs that we -- or, like, our own stocks and how we draw down from our stocks when supplying Ukraine.

So we do still have PDA funding.  But the important thing to focus on, is we don't have enough money to replenish what we've taken out from our stocks.  And that's what that letter that Director Young, I think, really emphasized. And that's the important thing.

Q:  Thank you.

MS. SINGH:  Carla?

Q:  Thanks.  Just a follow-up to Phil's question on the Red Sea and I guess bringing Barbara Starr in with all do respect, how much of a coincidence is it that the USS Carney just happens to be around these commercial vessels as they're getting attacked by the Houthi?

MS. SINGH:  We've been very clear that the -- the Carney and the Ike are in -- and the Mason, as well, is in the CENTCOM AOR, that's one of the water raids that the Carney is transiting.  That was where the Mason was, I think, last week or the week before.  We always are going to sail and operate in international waterways.  That's part of their mission.  And so, I don't know that it's a coincidence so much as they were there.  They were doing their jobs.

And that when there were distress calls from -- I think -- I think that there were two or three ships that sent out distress calls.  I think it was two, actually, that they responded.  That's their job, that's one of their jobs, of course, is also to focus on deterrence.  But should a ship need help or -- or issue a distress call, that's what they're there for.

Q:  Is this building open to considering that maybe the Houthis were targeting the Carney and not a commercial vessel?  Or has this building completely ruled that out?

MS. SINGH:  We've not ruled out anything.  Our initial assessments are that the drone -- the intended target was not the Carney.  It came so -- it came close enough that the commander of the ship felt that it was a threat and needed to engage and shoot down that drone.  And that's what you (saw ?).

Q:  But close enough to the Carney?

MS. SINGH:  Yes.  What did I say?

Q:  Yes, I was just --

MS. SINGH:  Yes.

Q:  -- like you said, the drone came close enough to the Carney that the commander felt that it was a threat and shot it down?

MS. SINGH:  Yes.  That's right.

Q:  So, how is that not a potential attack on the Carney?

MS. SINGH:  Because as we do our own assessments, and again, this is coming from our own intelligence analysis, we do not assess at this time, if our assessments continue and lead us in a different direction, I will certainly come to you on that.  But at this time, we do not assess that the Carney was the intended target of the drone.

Luis in the back.

Q:  You answered most of my questions.

MS. SINGH:  Great, moving on.


Q:  But you just said, was this a one-way drone that would -- had it -- that was shot down?

MS. SINGH:  I don't have more information that.  I think what --

Q:  I mean, I understand the whole thing about the --

MS. SINGH:  Yes.

Q:  -- direction and all that stuff, but intent, I mean, can be determined, but like the type of drone, whether it was a one-way or a reconnaissance.

MS. SINGH:  Yes.

Q:  So, I mean --

MS. SINGH:  Good --

Q:  -- it sounds to me like you're saying, you're using the word target and you're using the word threat, that, for all intents and purposes, you're talking about a one-way drone.

MS. SINGH:  I don't have more on the type of drone that it was that the Carney shot down.  You saw, last night, the pretty detailed release that CENTCOM put out. So, I'd direct you to that.  But again, the commander of the ship made a decision, made a call that he or she felt that the drone was a threat to the ship and needed to be shot down.


Q:  Thank you.  Can -- what is the total number of U.S. airstrikes, including the AC-130 strike in Iraq and this -- this strike against the drone?  Are we talking six now?  Three in Syria, three in Iraq?

Sorry, math is not my strong point.

MS. SINGH:  Let me just get this right.  You know what, I don't want to -- I don't want to take a guess here.  So, let us just get you that rundown.  Again, the AC-130 strike that was taken, that was -- I would, again, I think I tried to explain this at the podium, but maybe I didn't do an eloquent job.

I would separate that out from the pre-planned strikes that we took, whether it was I think on the -- I -- we have the dates, but that was something that was a dynamic strike.  And you know what that means, like we were able to identify where the fire was coming from and that's what that AC-130 did.

Q:  So, when you -- when you respond on it, does the total number of dynamics/pre-planned strikes.  And my last question is, is there any talk of reflagging commercial vessels like the U.S. did during the tanker wars?

MS. SINGH:  I don't have anything for you on that.  If that changes, I will certainly let you know.  And in terms of the strikes, we can get you, like, a more precise breakdown.  I know we've put out -- you've seen some of our press releases that we've put out for some of those, and then some of the more dynamic targeting like the AC-130 we read out at the podium.

Q:  Great.

MS. SINGH:  (inaudible).

Q:  Thanks.  Going back to the Red -- the Red Sea real quick, so you know, you're sort of saying that the Carney's commander felt that the drone was a threat; shot it down before it could get too close.

MS. SINGH:  Yeah.

Q:  I mean, that strike comes right around the same time it -- same weekend as the Ike is putting up very lovely pictures of an Iranian drone flying within, you know, I think 1,200 feet or what have you of it.  That drone is not shut down.  Can you sort of square that for -- for folks?

MS. SINGH:  Sure, well, I think the photos that you're referring to is just what we did and what -- what the Ike put out --

Q:  Sure.

MS. SINGH:  -- to demonstrate that that was unsafe, unprofessional behavior, but not a threat.  We observed that drone.  They took photos of it.  We've seen this not just with Iranian-made drones; we do this also when there are PRC intercepts.  Sometimes we don't always shoot something down.  We observe.  We take photos.  We release that.  In fact, you saw Dr. Ratner spoke to that earlier this year about how many intercepts we've had.  Just because something is unsafe and unprofessional doesn't always meet the threshold to feel the need to shoot it down.

Q:  Sure.

MS. SINGH:  And so that was -- that was why we put up those photos, to show how close it got.

Q:  Yeah.

MS. SINGH:  But the commander of the ship did not feel that it needed to be shot down at the time.

Q:  So then what is it about the Houthi drones that makes them so threatening?

MS. SINGH:  Again, each incidence is different.  The Carney, as it was on -- headed towards, I think, the Unity Explorer, and then again -- don't want to get this wrong -- I think it was -- it was headed towards the Sophie too, as well; engaged and shot down two drones that it felt was a threat to its -- the ship and the personnel on the ship.  It's up to the discretion of the commander.  They have the absolute right to make that decision and make that call when it is happening in that moment.

Q:  Okay.

MS. SINGH:  Yeah, (inaudible).

Q:  One thing I want to correct -- you mentioned two drones, but I thought there were three that were shot down yesterday.

MS. SINGH:  Yeah.  Or -- yeah.

Q:  One -- one while it was patrolling (inaudible) and two while it was patrolling --

MS. SINGH:  That's why -- that's why I didn't want to, like, do the (inaudible) here.  But yes, you're correct.  There was one, I think, when it was -- when the Carney was headed towards Unity Explorer; another time when it was -- and again, this entire release is online, so don't make me do it here, but --

Q:  Yeah.

MS. SINGH:  -- towards the Sophie, and then I think at this other point, when it was in the vicinity of the Number 9.

Q:  Okay.  I think so at -- at -- is the U.S. focused on the Middle East, then, the (inaudible) there?  Is that detracting from -- from attention on other regions?  And if it hasn't started to do that, at what point will it distract from --

MS. SINGH:  Well, I'm glad you asked that because I think the secretary spoke to that pretty forcefully at the Reagan National Defense Forum.  He made the case for why we need to continue to support Ukraine.  And yes, while, as you mentioned, there is focus on the Middle East, we're still doing what we can to support Ukraine with the presidential drawdown authority that we have left.  We're going to continue to do that.  That's a commitment that the president has made.  That's a commitment that the secretary has.  We have not lost sight of the NDS.  We have not lost sight of the fact that we have still our pacing challenge with the PRC.  And I think you've seen this administration do a really incredible job of managing multiple challenges.  You know, the president just last month was in San Francisco talking about the need to resume mil-to-mil communications with the PRC.  That's something that the secretary looks forward to doing once the secretary has a counterpart that the PRC appoints.

That, I think -- it shows the incredible might of the United States military, that we are able to do and manage and address multiple, whether it be conflicts or challenges around the world and keep our eye on what the National Defense Strategy has outlined.

According to -- yup.

Q:  Just a quick one.  So just the -- I just want to be clear on the the dynamic strike in Iraq yesterday.  So they saw -- the U.S. saw five guys getting ready to launch a drone, right?  The drone, it was still on the ground when the strike -- when the U.S. took the strike, right?

MS. SINGH:  They --

Q:  They had not launched it or had it --

MS. SINGH:  From what I am -- know right now, it had not launched.  But again, they were in the process of getting ready to attack U.S. forces.

Q:  Can you explain how it is that if the drone was still on the ground, the U.S. was confident that it was going to be -- it was going to be striking the U.S.?  Like, how is that considered a self-defense if it wasn't even up in the air yet?  What it there (inaudible)

MS. SINGH:  Yeah, that gets into our intelligence and what we were able to decipher, and I'm not going to get into, you know, further more on our intelligence.  But we felt that that it was going to be a threat to U.S. forces, and because the inherent right to self-defense we took action.

Q:  Was -- was that because of the -- the drone that you guys were able to see?  I mean, was it -- was it because it was armed or it was -- is that what it was?  It was armed or  --

MS. SINGH:  No, I'm -- I -- I'm just not -- sorry, I was just -- I was nodding and, like, listening to you.

Q:  I'm taking that as a yes.


MS. SINGH: I'm an -- an active listener.

Q:  Okay.

MS. SINGH:  So again, I would just say that all -- all I can say right now is what I read out.  I don't have more on the specifics of the drone itself.

Yeah?  Yeah, (inaudible)

Q:  There was reporting --

MS. SINGH:  Oh, sorry.

Q:  Sorry.

Q:  No, go ahead, Ellee


MS. SINGH:  Ladies first.

Q:  Yeah, ladies first.

Q:  There was reporting earlier this year that the Marines were -- CENTCOM was considering putting Marines on commercial vessels to deter Iranian seizures.  Was that plan ever approved?  Are there any Marines on commercial vessels?  And is the Pentagon still considering that?

MS. SINGH:  I don't have anything to read out in terms of any plans to put Marines on commercial ships.  I -- I know -- I saw that reporting at the time.  That -- that did not happen, and I don't have anything to preview of any plans to do so.


Q:  The Carney -- the -- the Carney was not formally escorting any of the three ships at the time, right?  It just so happened to be responding to their distress call?  There was no formal --

MS. SINGH:  Yeah, I'm not tracking that it was escorting any ships.  

Q:  I mean, particularly those three, you know --

MS. SINGH:  Right, not --

Q:  -- those three ships?

MS. SINGH:  -- not those three.

Q:  Okay, and as pointed out, whether or not you -- there there's -- a reflagging operation or not, there's no current plan here to formally have another escort to -- for -- for Navy warships to escort commercial vessels --

MS. SINGH:  At this moment --

Q:  -- here in the region?

MS. SINGH:  At this moment I -- I -- not at -- not at this moment.  Should that change, we would, of course, let you know.  But at this moment, I have nothing to read out on that.  Yeah.


Q:  So like, a lot of these ships, there's -- that are being hit -- or are being targeted, they're Israeli-linked even if they're flying under flags of different countries.  So what does it tell the DOD about what we see intelligence -- or Iranian-backed groups about the intelligence about these ships that are flying under a Panama flag, but they actually know that these are, in fact, Israeli-linked or Israeli business that'll --

MS. SINGH:  Well, I would I would let each ship speak for itself, but I don't know that that's entirely accurate, that they're all, or have a connection to Israel in some way.  Again, I -- I would -- I would direct you to -- I mean, it's not my responsibility, nor should it be, to speak for these ships.  But I -- that -- that -- I couldn't speak to the intel that, you know, that these have on how they're targeting.  But it's -- to my understanding, they're not all Israeli-backed.  I mean, you have to remember -- and I think, you know, in the release that was put out, I mean, these ships have multiple nationalities on that.  They're not just Israeli.  They're, you know, from -- nationalized from all around the world, and so I think it's important to remember that.  I would -- I would just let each commercial vessel speak for itself.  I just don't have that information.

Q:  And based on what's happening with the Houthis, have the -- so -- DOD assessed them to be more of a threat than maybe at the beginning of what was going -- or what started with Israel and Hamas?

MS. SINGH:  We continue, and always have continued to monitor the Houthis and their capabilities.  I -- I think I was asked earlier if -- you know, if the U.S. will respond.  And, again, I would just leave it that I'm not going to get ahead of the secretary or the president on any decision.

Obviously, it would be our decision to respond at a time and place of our choosing.  But I'm just not going to get into any more intel on that.

Q:  And just one more quick question?

MS. SINGH:  Sure, yeah?

Q:  This -- Ford's getting pretty close to their seven and a half, eight months mark on their deployment --

MS. SINGH:  Yeah.

Q:  Any -- any word on if they're being sent home, if they're going to be deployed?

MS. SINGH:  I don't have any announcements today.  The Ford remains in the Eastern Med.

Chris, yeah?

Q:  Thanks, Sabrina.  Just to parse the dynamic strike versus pre-planned strike thing, the drone was looking at these guys, obviously ready to --

MS. SINGH:  Which one?

Q:  The --



Q:  -- U.S. drone, that took the strike -- was looking at the guys, took action.

Are these drones up for force protection?

I mean, the AC-30 -- AC-130 was up.  Does the U.S. have air assets up to plan to possibly take action?

Should we read in anything to that, or why are these -- why did it happen to be there at that time?

MS. SINGH:  Yeah, I'm just not going to get into our intelligence assessments and why we -- what we're doing.  We're obviously flying assets to protect our troops.  And I'll just leave it at that.

Yeah, I'm going to -- yes?

Q:  Thank you for taking my question.  So just quick question about Osprey flights.  So does the DOD still recognize an official request from Japan to suspend our pause its flights?

And is there any update on Osprey operation?

I know CV-22 are not flying now, but other than that flight, for example, like MV-22 and other flights?

MS. SINGH:  Yeah.  So just to clarify that, and I think, if you didn't get our statement from -- from Friday, I'm happy to send it to you.  But we are taking all appropriate measures, as we do for every flight and every operation.  The unit of the CV-22 that had the accident is not conducting flight operations at this time.  And that's standard.  As they're -- the focus of the unit is, of course, on search-and-rescue.

All CV-22 Ospreys in Japan operate only after undergoing thorough maintenance and safety checks.  And we have already started sharing information about the accident with our Japanese partners and (inaudible) should continue to do so in a timely and transparent manner.

Yeah, we've got time for, like --


Q:  Just had a quick follow-up on Osprey?

MS. SINGH:  Sure, yeah?

Q:  Have those operations officially transitioned from search-and-rescue to search-and-recovery yet?

And have those -- as far as I know, there was six now who have been found and are being recovered?

The other two, are their statuses going to change from DUSTWUN to deceased?

MS. SINGH:  Yeah, no, great questions.  We will have more to share later today.  I just -- I don't want to get ahead of that at this time.

Yeah, Will and Lara, and then I'll -- I'll wrap it up.

Q:  Quick, on the -- on the strike in Iraq, do you have any information on the militants who were carrying this out?

What was their affiliation?

MS. SINGH:  We know that these were militants, like IRGC-backed militants.  I don't have more to share at this time.  But again, these are -- it's the same pattern of hostile actors that have been attacking our forces in Iraq and Syria.  I'll just leave it at that.

Lara, yes, last one.

Q:  Yeah, just on the -- the guys that attacked the commercial vessels, I think it was last week, that you had initially determined to be Somali, do you have an update on that?

Are they -- did you confirm they were Somali?  Do they have any links to the Houthis?

MS. SINGH:  At this time, our initial assessments is that they do not have any link.  But, again, that's our initial assessment.  We've said that, at the beginning, when they were taken into U.S. custody.  Should that change, we would -- we would let you know.  But it is still our assessment at this time that they're not --

Q:  They are Somali?

MS. SINGH:  -- a connection.

Q:  They are Somalian?

MS. SINGH:  Yes, that's our -- that's our assessment right now, that they are Somali.

Q:  Where are they?

MS. SINGH:  And they are in U.S. custody.

Q:  Still?

MS. SINGH:  Yeah.

Q:  On the Ford, or where --

MS. SINGH:  On the Mason.

Q:  In the Mason?

MS. SINGH:  On the Mason, yeah.

All right.  Thanks, everyone.