The United States is currently conducting an investigation into what are believed to be concentrated electromagnetic energy attacks on its troops deployed overseas, which it suspects are committed by Russia, the American journal Politico has reported.
Citing four former national security officials involved in the investigation along with two anonymous sources, Politico revealed that US troops in Syria mysteriously developed flu-like symptoms last year, sustaining undetailed injuries as a result of their illnesses.
The troops' symptoms reportedly closely resembled those suffered by US diplomats in Cuba who underwent bouts of "Havana syndrome" a few years ago. They include acute ringing noise and pressure in ears, loss of hearing and balance, fatigue, lingering headaches and, in some cases, even long-term brain damage.
After those symptoms were found to have affected American diplomatic staff in Cuba and other countries such as China and Russia, the State Department released a report in December last year pointing to "directed, pulsed radiofrequency energy" purposefully targeting the diplomats and agents.
Consisting of highly concentrated energy, such as high-powered radio frequency or microwave devices and lasers which can harm targets, these attacks can take a variety of forms. The jamming of electronic equipment, for example, or the infliction of pain or permanent injuries on individuals.
The primary suspect in such attacks over the past few years has been Russia. Given that the same symptoms have reappeared in Syria where both US and Russian forces are based, the Pentagon is said to hold Moscow responsible.
Not everyone in Washington agrees, however. The head of US Central Command, General Frank McKenzie, addressed lawmakers during a Senate Armed Services Committee hearing and said that he had seen "no evidence" of such energy attacks against US troops in the Middle East.
In February this year, the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) launched its own investigation into the attacks on its operatives abroad. However, this is the first time that such attacks on troops in the Middle East have been reported.