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Iran protests – live updates: Police arrest 450 people in Tehran as Donald Trump steps up criticism

- iran protests 0 - Iran protests – live updates: Police arrest 450 people in Tehran as Donald Trump steps up criticism


Clashes overnight between protesters and security forces in Iran have left nine people dead, state TV reports said, amid reports around 450 people have been arrested during three days of protest the capital Tehran

The demonstrations, the largest to strike Iran since its disputed 2009 presidential election, have seen six days of unrest across the country and a death toll of at least 20.

The semi-official ILNA news agency quoted Ali Asghar Nasserbakht, a security deputy governor of Tehran, who said 200 protesters were arrested on Saturday, 150 on Sunday and 100 were arrested Monday. 

Offering his first comments since they began, Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei accused the “enemies of Iran” of meddling in the country’s affairs. 

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France says it is “concerned” by the recent demonstrations in Iran.
 
“The right to protest is a fundamental right,” a spokesman for the country’s foreign ministry said.
 
He declined to comment on whether France’s foreign minister, Jean-Yves Le Drian, has any plans to visit Tehran.
The violent demonstrations have not had an impact on Iran’s oil production, sources told Reuters.
 
At around 3.8 million barrels per day, the country is OPEC’s third-biggest oil producer.
 
“I see no impact on the production and export,” one oil industry source said.
 
“Everything is going normally,” said another, adding that the protests had not spread into the energy sector and “remained in the streets”.
  
- a3d253a5 5d07 408b b653 7b1c93831f56 - Iran protests – live updates: Police arrest 450 people in Tehran as Donald Trump steps up criticism

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Boris Johnson has called for Iran to engage in “meaningful debate” about the “legitimate and important” issues raised by protesters.
The Foreign Secretary, who visited Tehran last month, had earlier said he was “watching events with concern”.
 
In a Facebook post, Mr Johnson said the UK was “watching events in Iran closely”.
He said: “We believe that there should be meaningful debate about the legitimate and important issues the protesters are raising and we look to the Iranian authorities to permit this.
“We also believe that, particularly as we enter the 70th anniversary year of the Universal Declaration on Human Rights, people should be able to have freedom of expression and to demonstrate peacefully within the law.
“We regret the loss of life that has occurred in the protests in Iran, and call on all concerned to refrain from violence and for international obligations on human rights to be observed.”
Britain has called on Iran to engage in meaningful debate about issues raised by protesters, Theresa May’s spokesman has said.
“We believe there should be meaningful debate about the legitimate and important issues that the protesters are raising, and we’re looking to the Iranian authorities to permit that,” the Prime Minister’s spokesman said.

The UK Government thinks there should be meaningful debate in Iran on the issues protesters are raising, Theresa May’s spokesman has said.

- ea934f1d 6211 4c9c ad71 efd6ac4fa06e - Iran protests – live updates: Police arrest 450 people in Tehran as Donald Trump steps up criticism

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Iran’s Supreme Leader has accused enemies of the Islamic Republic of stirring unrest.
“In recent days, enemies of Iran used different tools including cash, weapons, politics and intelligence apparatus to create troubles for the Islamic Republic,” Ayatollah Ali Khamenei was quoted as saying in a post on his official website.
Mr Khamenei said he would address the nation about the recent events “when the time is right”.
Emily Thornberry, the Shadow Foreign Secretary, has called for Iranian authorities to show restraint.
She said: “The picture surrounding the protests in Iran remains highly uncertain, and Western politicians should be cautious in claiming to understand their origins, organisation or objectives, when many Iranian experts are still struggling to do so.
 
“However, one thing is absolutely clear: the escalation of violence must be stopped, and it is particularly incumbent on the Iranian authorities to show restraint in their policing, allow peaceful, democratic protests to proceed, and enable a political dialogue so that all political and economic grievances can be raised and resolved.”
Syria has expressed solidarity with Iran and criticised the US and Israel for expressing support to Iranian protesters.
 
A Syrian Foreign Ministry statement blamed the US and Israel for destabilising the region.
The ministry said Iran’s sovereignty should be respected and no one should interfere in Tehran’s internal affairs. 
“Syria is confident that Iran’s leadership, government and people will be able to defeat the conspiracy,” the Syrian ministry said. 
 
Syria is Iran’s strongest ally in the Arab world and Tehran has been a main backer of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad since the country’s conflict began in 2011, pumping hundreds of millions of dollars into the Syrian economy. 
Arrested protesters could potentially face death penalty cases when they come to trial, the head of Tehran’s Revolutionary Court has reportedly warned. 
 
“Obviously one of their charges can be Moharebeh,” or waging war against God, the semi-official Tasnim news agency quoted Mousa Ghazanfarabadi as saying. 
 
It is a death penalty offense in Iran. 
 
Mr Ghazanfarabadi was also quoted as saying some protesters will come to trial soon on charges of acting against national security and damaging public properties.
 
He also stressed that attending rallies not sanctioned by police was illegal in Iran.
State TV said six rioters were killed during an attack on a police station in the town of Qahdarijan.
 
It reported the clashes were sparked by rioters who tried to steal guns from the police station. 
State TV also said an 11-year-old boy and a 20-year-old man were killed in the town of Khomeinishahr, while a member of Iran’s paramilitary Revolutionary Guard was killed in the town of Najafabad. It said all were shot by hunting rifles. 
The towns are all in Iran’s central Isfahan province, some 350km (215 miles) south of Tehran. 
Iranian state TV is reporting that nine people have been killed overnight amid nationwide protests and unrest. 
The report puts the death toll in six days of demonstrations to at least 20 people. 
A semi-official news agency reports that 450 people have been arrested over three days of protests in Tehran.
The ILNA news agency report quoted Ali Asghar Nasserbakht, a security deputy governor of Tehran, offering the figure.
 
Mr Nasserbakht said that 200 protesters were arrested on Saturday, 150 on Sunday and 100 on Monday.
 
He said the situation in Tehran was under control and the police has not asked for the help of the Revolutionary Guards special forces.
Mehr news agency also quoted a judiciary official as saying that several ringleaders of protests in Karaj, the fourth largest city in Iran, have been arrested.
 
The protests began last Thursday over economic issues and expanded to several cities.
 
No nationwide arrest figures have been released by authorities since the demonstrations began.

The protests began on Thursday in Mashhad over Iran’s weak economy and a jump in food prices and have expanded to several cities, with some protesters chanting against the government and the supreme leader, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei.

The protests have put pressure on the clerical leaders in power since the 1979 Islamic Revolution.

President Hassan Rouhani has acknowledged the public’s anger over the Islamic Republic’s flagging economy, though he and others warned that the government wouldn’t hesitate to crack down on those it considers lawbreakers.

All the protest rallies so far haven’t received prior permission from the Interior Ministry, making them illegal under Iranian law. 

In comments posted to his official website, Mr Khamenei appeared to blame foreign nations for at least exacerbating the unrest gripping Iran. 

“In the recent days’ incidents, enemies of Iran utilised various means — including money, weapon, politics and intelligence apparatuses — to create problems for the Islamic system,” he said. 

The head of Tehran’s Revolutionary Court also reportedly warned that arrested protesters could potentially face death penalty cases when they come to trial. 

Iran’s semi-official Tasnim news agency quoted Mousa Ghazanfarabadi as saying: “Obviously one of their charges can be Moharebeh,” or waging war against God, a death penalty offence in Iran. 

Donald Trump supported the protesters in a tweet: “The great Iranian people have been repressed for many years. They are hungry for food & for freedom. Along with human rights, the wealth of Iran is being looted. TIME FOR CHANGE!”

The protests began over Iran’s economy, which has improved since the nuclear deal that saw Iran agree to limit its enrichment of uranium in exchange for the end of some international sanctions. Tehran now sells its oil on the global market and has signed deals to purchase tens of billions of dollars’ worth of Western aircraft. 

However, the improvement has not reached the average Iranian.

Unemployment remains high, and official inflation has crept up to 10 per cent again. A recent increase in egg and poultry prices by as much as 40 per cent, which the government has blamed on a cull over avian flu fears, appears to have been the spark for the economic protests. 

Independent

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Middle East

Over 150 IS Jihadists Killed in Coalition Airstrike

- 823209f59df423d3a8200031329924ff L - Over 150 IS Jihadists Killed in Coalition Airstrike


ERBIL — The US-led Global Coalition against the Islamic State (IS) says its warplanes has killed over 150 jihadists in Syria last Saturday.

The large number of eliminated militants were killed in airstrikes carried out against the IS headquarters in al-Shafah district of middle Euphrates river valley.

“The precision strikes were a culmination of extensive intelligence preparation to confirm an ISIS headquarters and command-and-control center in an exclusively ISIS-occupied location in the contested Middle Euphrates River valley,” officials were cited in a press release by the Combined Joint Task Force Operation Inherent Resolve.

According to the Coalition, the targeted headquarter contained a heavy concentration of IS fighters who appear to have been massing for movement.

“The strikes underscore our assertion that the fight to liberate Syria is far from over,” said Army Maj. Gen. James B. Jarrard, commanding general of Special Operations Joint Task Force Operation Inherent Resolve.

“Our SDF partners are still making daily progress and sacrifices, and together we are still finding, targeting and killing ISIS terrorists’ intent on keeping their extremist hold on the region. We cannot take our focus off our mission, and we must not lose our momentum in taking these terrorists off the battlefield and preventing them from resurfacing somewhere else,” Jarrard said.

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Middle East

Jalalabad bombing: Explosion at Save The Children offices in Afghan city as gunmen clash with security forces

- 1516778066 breaking - Jalalabad bombing: Explosion at Save The Children offices in Afghan city as gunmen clash with security forces


Attackers set off a car bomb near the office of the Save The Children aid agency in the eastern Afghan city of Jalalabad on Wednesday and then clashed with security forces, a provincial government spokesman said.

“There was a blast and the target was Save The Children,” said the spokesman, Attaullah Khogyani. A clash was going on after the blast, he said.

Khogyani had no word on casualties but the director of the provincial health department said 11 wounded people had been taken to hospital.

There was no immediate claim of responsibility.

There were several other aid groups and government offices in the immediate area, raising the possibility that Save The Children was not the target.

Jalalabad is the capital of Nangarhar province, on the porous border with Pakistan.

The province has become a stronghold for Isis, which has grown to become one of Afghanistan’s most dangerous militant groups since it appeared around the beginning of 2015.

Backed by intensive US air strikes, Afghan forces have claimed growing success against the Taliban and other militant groups, including Isis, but attacks on civilian targets have continued, causing heavy casualties.

The attack in Jalalabad came just days after Taliban militants attacked the Hotel Intercontinental in the capital, Kabul, killing at least 20 people, including 13 foreigners. 

Reuters

Independent

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Middle East

Manbij becomes key as US looks to rein in Turkey’s Syrian offensive

- 1516747391 tirkey syria tank - Manbij becomes key as US looks to rein in Turkey’s Syrian offensive


The US is trying to prevent the fighting in Afrin between Turkish forces and Syrian Kurds spreading east into the main Kurdish enclave in Syria where US troops are based. Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan has threatened to drive the Kurdish People’s Protection Units (YPG) fighters not just from Afrin, but from Manbij, a strategic town west of the Euphrates.

“Terrorists in Manbij are constantly firing provocation shots,” said Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu. “If the US does not stop this, we will stop it.”

Some 6,000 Turkish troops backed by 10,000 Free Syrian Army fighters controlled by Turkey are seeking to fight their way into the isolated Kurdish canton of Afrin in northern Syria. Their progress has so far been slow, with thick cloud hindering air strikes in the hilly terrain. The YPG and Turkish-led forces have been fighting for the Bursaya Hill, with the summit, which overlooks the eastern side of Afrin town, changing hands several times.

The US has so far given muted support to its Kurdish allies in Syria, who provided the ground troops for the successful campaign against Isis. The US has supported the YPG during the war against Isis with massive air power, military equipment and some 2,000 specialised US troops.

The US is hoping to keep the present fighting confined to Afrin, which is separate from the bulk of Kurdish territory. There have never been any US military forces in this enclave, though there were Russian observers that have now been withdrawn. But if Turkey attacks Manbij then the US will have to decide if it is going to be seen as betraying its Kurdish ally or risk a military confrontation with its Nato partner Turkey.  

The Kurdish authorities in north-east Syria are calling for a mass mobilisation in defence of Afrin. But they already have large numbers of experienced combat troops previously fighting Isis that they can deploy if they wish. “The Turkish state has been trying to enter north Syria for days, but it will not be able to,” said Siyamund Walat, a YPG general. “We have forces in Afrin, thousands… they are protecting the border and the people. If necessary all the soldiers will go to Afrin.”

It may be in the interests of the Syrian Kurds to prolong the fighting in Afrin so international diplomatic pressure increases on Turkey to end Operation Olive Branch, as it calls its campaign. On the other hand, Afrin is cut off from the rest of the Kurdish-held area and the one supply road to the south is held by the Syrian Army. Syrian soldiers have been refusing to allow refugees from Afrin through their checkpoints to reach Kurdish areas in Aleppo city 25 miles away.

Explosions as Turkey confirms airstrikes on Afrin, Syria

The Turkish campaign only became possible when Russia agreed not to oppose it and, above all, allowed Turkish jets to operate in Syrian airspace. This is under Russian control west of the Euphrates. The long-contemplated Turkish assault was finally provoked by the US announcement last week that its forces would be staying in Syrian Kurdish territory for the foreseeable future. This de facto guarantee of the Kurdish statelet, directed against the Syrian government and Iran by the US, radically changed the strategic balance in Syria. The US had assured the Turks since the end of 2014 that its military cooperation with the YPG was purely tactical, directed against Isis and would end when Isis was defeated.

Mr Erdogan is taking advantage of a wave of patriotic support in Turkey for the Afrin operation to arrest dozens of politicians, journalists and activists who are accused of criticising the offensive. Many of those arrested, often for critical media posts, belong to the pro-Kurdish HDP party. “Journalists are having their doors rammed down without anybody knocking,” said HDP spokesman Ayhan Bilgen. “People are [becoming] afraid of keyboards, pens, words and writing”

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