Iran

Iran targeted Star of David in ballistic missile test, Israel says

Iran used a Star of David as a target for missile test last year, Israel said Wednesday, distributing satellite images of the site to the United Nations Security Council on Wednesday.

“This use of the Star of David as target practice is hateful and unacceptable,” Israel’s Ambassador to the United Nations Danny Danon wrote in a complaint to the Council.

Grainy photos provided to UN members showed what Danon said was the Jewish and Israeli symbol as the target in a test of a ballistic missile carried out last year with the impact crater visible next to it.

“The missile launch is not only a direct violation of UNSCR 2231, but is also a clear evidence of Iran’s continued intention to harm the State of Israel,” Danon said, adding that “the targeting of a sacred symbol of Judaism is abhorrent.”

“It is the Iranians who prop up the Assad regime as hundreds of thousands are killed, finance the terrorists of Hezbollah as they threaten the citizens of Israel, and support extremists and tyrants throughout the Middle East and around the world,” he added.

Satellite imagery released by Israel's UN mission on June 28, 2017, shows the Star of David being used as target practice by the Iranian military. (courtesy, UN PHOTO)

Earlier this month Iran fired missiles at Syria, targeting Islamic State positions in the first missile attack by Iran outside its own territory in 30 years, since the Iran-Iraq war of 1980-1988.

The medium-range ballistic missiles Iran said it fired at the eastern Syria’s Deir el-Zour region were ostensibly in retaliation for the twin terror attacks carried out by the group on June 7 in Tehran’s parliament, and at the grave of Ayatollah Khomeini in which 17 people were killed. Revolutionary Guards officials warned that other assaults on Iran would lead to similar retaliatory attacks, describing the missiles as a message to its enemies.

Israel's UN ambassador Danny Danon addresses the Security Council on October 19, 2016. (UN Photo)

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said after the attack, “I have one message for Iran: Don’t threaten Israel.”

Iran has in the past test-fired missiles with anti-Israel messages written on them in Hebrew. In March 2016, it test-fired two ballistic missiles, which an Iranian news agency said were inscribed with the phrase “Israel must be wiped out.”

After Iran test-fired a ballistic missile in January, the US-imposed sanctions on a number of entities involved in Iran’s ballistic missile program, and US President Donald Trump warned the Islamic Republic it had been “put on notice.”

Although Iran maintains that the testing of ballistic missiles is not banned by the 2015 nuclear deal designed to prevent Iran from developing a nuclear weapon, the US said that the sanctions were imposed for Iran’s violation of United Nations Security Council Resolution 2331, which calls upon Iran “not to undertake any activity related to ballistic missiles designed to be capable of delivering nuclear weapons, including launches using such ballistic missile technology.”

Since January’s test-firing of a ballistic missile, Iran has carried out a number of other tests of cruise and submarine-based missiles.

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Number of drug addicts in Iran doubles in six years

TEHRAN, Iran — The number of drug addicts in Iran has more than doubled in six years, with opium the country’s most popular narcotic, local media reported Sunday.

“There are about 2.8 million people regularly consuming drugs” in the country of 80 million people, Drug Control Organization spokesman Parviz Afshar told the ISNA news agency.

Citing experts from the health ministry, Iran’s Welfare Organization and his own agency, Afshar said the number of drug users was up from 1.3 million six years ago.

He said opium made up 67 percent of consumption, with marijuana and its derivatives accounting for 12 percent and methamphetamine around 8 percent of the total.

“Opium is still the most popular (drug) and methamphetamine use has dropped significantly,” he said.

In this Tuesday, Feb. 3, 2015 photo, drug addicts sleep in their chairs at drop in center and shelter, south of Tehran, Iran. (AP/Ebrahim Noroozi)

Iran’s neighbor Afghanistan produces some 90 percent of the world’s opium, which is extracted from poppy resin and refined to make heroin.

Iran is a major transit point for Afghan-produced opiates heading to Europe and beyond.

Opium production surged significantly after the United States and its allies invaded Afghanistan in 2001 and overthrew the ruling Taliban.

By its last year in power, the Taliban had slashed opium output to just 185 tons a year, according to United Nations estimates.

But the UN says Afghan production has since rocketed, hitting between 4,800 and 6,000 tons in 2016.

Last year’s bumper crop, aided by better weather, pushed world opium output up by a third on the previous year and helped fund an intensifying Taliban insurgency.

That is despite a decade of international efforts to stabilize the country and billions of dollars spent on persuading Afghan farmers to grow other crops.

The UN’s crime and drugs agency said Thursday that the global narcotics market is “thriving” with opiates causing tens of thousands of avoidable deaths a year.

To end crisis, Arab states demand Qatar sever Iran ties

WASHINGTON (AP) — Saudi Arabia and other Arab countries that have cut ties to Qatar issued a steep list of demands Thursday to end the crisis, insisting that their Persian Gulf neighbor shutter al-Jazeera, cut back diplomatic ties to Iran and close down a Turkish military base in Qatar.

In a 13-point list — presented to the Qataris by Kuwait, which is helping mediate the crisis — the countries also demand that Qatar sever all ties with the Muslim Brotherhood and with other groups including Hezbollah, al-Qaeda and the Islamic State group. The Associated Press obtained a copy of the list in Arabic from one of the countries involved in the dispute.

Saudi Arabia, Egypt, the United Arab Emirates and Bahrain cut ties to Qatar this month over allegations the Persian Gulf country funds terrorism — an accusation that President Donald Trump has echoed. Those countries have now given Qatar 10 days to comply with all of the demands, which include paying an unspecified sum in compensation.

According to the list, Qatar must refuse to naturalize citizens from the four countries and expel those currently in Qatar, in what the countries describe as an effort to keep Qatar from meddling in their internal affairs.

In this Oct. 23, 2012 photo, then-Emir of Qatar Sheikh Hamad bin Khalifa al-Thani, left, and Gaza's Hamas prime minister Ismail Haniyeh, arrive for a corner-stone laying ceremony for Hamad, a new residential neighborhood in Khan Younis, southern Gaza Strip. (AP Photo/Mohammed Salem, Pool)

They are also demanding that Qatar hand over all individuals who are wanted by those four countries for terrorism; stop funding any extremist entities that are designated as terrorist groups by the US; and provide detailed information about opposition figures that Qatar has funded, ostensibly in Saudi Arabia and the other nations.

Qatar’s government did not have any immediate reaction to the list. Nor did the United States. Earlier this week, Secretary of State Rex Tillerson had insisted that Qatar’s neighbors provide a list of demands that was “reasonable and actionable.”

Though Qatar’s neighbors have focused their grievances on alleged Qatari support for extremism, they have also voiced loud concerns about Qatar’s relationship with Iran, the Shiite-led country that is a regional foe for Saudi Arabia and other Sunni-led nations.

The Iran provisions in the document say Qatar must shut down diplomatic posts in Iran, kick out from Qatar any members of the Iran’s elite Revolutionary Guard, and only conduct trade and commerce with Iran that complies with US sanctions. Under the 2015 nuclear deal, nuclear-related sanctions on Iran were eased but other sanctions remain in place.

Mohamed Fawzi (L), former Al Jazeera English cameraman, listens while Mohamed Fahmy, former Al Jazeera English reporter, speaks during a press conference at the National Press Club about a lawsuit against Qatar's Al Jazeera June 22, 2017 in Washington, DC. (AFP PHOTO / Brendan Smialowski)

The demands regarding al-Jazeera, the Doha-based satellite broadcaster, state that Qatar must also shut down all affiliates. That presumably would mean Qatar would have to close down al-Jazeera’s English-language affiliate. Qatar’s neighbors accuse al-Jazeera of fomenting unrest in the region and supporting the Muslim Brotherhood.

If Qatar agrees to comply, the list asserts that it will be audited once a month for the first year, and then once per quarter in the second year after it takes effect. For the following 10 years, Qatar would be monitored annually for compliance.

Iran launches missile strike into Syria in response to Tehran attacks

TEHRAN, Iran (AP) — Iran’s Revolutionary Guard said Sunday it launched missiles into eastern Syria targeting Islamic State militants in response to a June 7 attack on Iran’s parliament and a shrine in Tehran. The hardline paramilitary force also warned that it would similarly retaliate against anyone else carrying out attacks in Iran.

The launch of surface-to-surface medium range missiles into Syria’s Deir el-Zour province comes as Islamic State militants fleeing a US-led coalition onslaught increasingly try to fortify their positions there.

Israel’s Channel 10, quoting an Israeli intelligence source, said the missiles were Iranian Shahab-3 medium-range ballistic missiles, with a range of 1,200 kilometers (800 miles).

Sunday’s assault marked an extremely rare direct attack from the Islamic Republic amid its support for embattled Syrian President Bashar Assad. Iran’s Revolutionary Guard, a hard-line paramilitary force, has seen advisers and fighters killed in the conflict.

Media reports said this marked the first time Iran had fired missiles as an act of war since the end of the Iran-Iraq war in 1988.

Activists in Syria said they had no immediate information on damage or casualties from the strikes, launched from Iran’s Kurdistan and Kermanshah provinces. Social media was awash in shaky mobile phone footage from those areas, allegedly showing the missiles rise in an orange glow before heading toward their targets.

A Guard statement carried on its website said many “terrorists” were killed and their weapons had been destroyed in the strike.

Footage of the moment ‘s IRGC fires missiles targeting terrorists in  of .

The Guard warned Islamic State militants and their “regional and international supporters” that similar retaliatory attacks would target them as well if another assault in Iran occurs.

Activists in Syria did not immediately have information about the Iranian-claimed strikes. Deir el-Zour is home to both Islamic State militants and civilians.

Five Islamic State-linked attackers stormed Iran’s parliament and a shrine to revolutionary leader Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini on June 7, killing at least 17 people and wounding more than 50.

That attack marked the first to hit Iran, shocking its residents who believed the chaos engulfing the rest of the Middle East would not find them in the Shiite-majority nation.

Iran has described the attackers as being “long affiliated with the Wahhabi,” an ultraconservative form of Sunni Islam practiced in Saudi Arabia. However, it stopped short of directly blaming the kingdom for the attack, though many in the country expressed suspicion Iran’s regional rival had a hand in the attack.

The attack also came as emboldened Sunni Arab states — backed by US President Donald Trump — are hardening their stance against Iran.

Syria, Iran And N. Korea: Will Trump Attempt To Finish The Neocon Hitlist?

http://www.renegadetribune.com/syria-iran-n-korea-will-trump-attempt-finish-neocon-hitlist/

 

Renegade Editor’s Note: I should not have to state this, but the neocons are zionist jews, with a few shabbos goy thrown in.

By Steven MacMillan

In Donald Trump’s short time in office, he has already shown his propensity to use military force. From dropping the largest non-nuclear bomb ever used on Afghanistan, to launching 59 Tomahawk cruise missiles at Iraq (oh wait, Syria), there is no doubt that the Trump administration has a prominent militaristic streak.

But is this just for starters? If Trump stays in power for the duration of his term, is there a major war, or even multiple wars, on the horizon? Judging by the rhetoric and actions already taken by the Trump administration, it will be a miracle if the US does not start a major war in the near future. Coincidentally, the main countries in the sights of the Trump administration just happen to be the three countries that the neoconservatives pinpointed for regime change 17 years ago, but have not yet been dealt with.

1997 marked the birth of the Project for the New American Century (PNAC), a neoconservative think tank of catastrophic proportions. It was founded by William Kristol, the longtime editor of the Weekly Standard, who also served as the chief of staff to Vice President Dan Quayle, and Robert Kagan, a former State Department official who is now a Senior Fellow at the Brookings Institution. A long list of neocons belonged to the group, including Dick Cheney, Donald Rumsfeld and Paul Wolfowitz.

PNAC’s stated objectives included the desire to “shape a new century favourable to American principles and interests,” “increase defense spending significantly,” and challenge “regimes hostile to US interests and values.” In September 2000, the PNAC group released a report titled: ‘Rebuilding America’s Defenses – Strategy, Forces and Resources for a New Century.’ The introduction to the report clearly expressed PNAC’s desire to maintain US supremacy in the world:

At present, the United States faces no global rival. America’s grand strategy should aim to preserve and extend this advantageous position as far into the future as possible…Preserving the desirable strategic situation in which the United States now finds itself requires a globally preeminent military capability both today and in the future.

In order to maintain this supremacy, the report called for the Defense Department to be at the forefront of experimenting with transformative technologies, a move that would require a dramatic increase in defense spending. Curiously, the report – published one year prior to 9/11 – argued that this transformation would likely be a “long one” unless an event on the scale of “Pearl Harbor” occurred:

To preserve American military preeminence in the coming decades, the Department of Defense must move more aggressively to experiment with new technologies and operational concepts, and seek to exploit the emerging revolution in military affairs… The effects of this military transformation will have profound implications for how wars are fought, what kinds of weapons will dominate the battlefield and, inevitably, which nations enjoy military preeminence…

The Pentagon [however], constrained by limited budgets and pressing current missions, has seen funding for experimentation and transformation crowded out in recent years. Spending on military research and development has been reduced dramatically over the past decade… Any serious effort at transformation must occur within the larger framework of U.S. national security strategy, military missions and defense budgets… The process of transformation, even if it brings revolutionary change, is likely to be a long one, absent some catastrophic and catalyzing event – like a new Pearl Harbor (p.50-p.51).

Under the guise of missile capability, the report then pinpointed five countries that the neocons, in conjunction with the CIA, considered “deeply hostile” to the US:

Ever since the Persian Gulf War of 1991… the value of the ballistic missile has been clear to America’s adversaries. When their missiles are tipped with warheads carrying nuclear, biological, or chemical weapons, even weak regional powers have a credible deterrent, regardless of the balance of conventional forces. That is why, according to the CIA, a number of regimes deeply hostile to America – North Korea, Iraq, Iran, Libya and Syria – ‘already have or are developing ballistic missiles’ that could threaten U.S allies and forces abroad. And one, North Korea, is on the verge of deploying missiles that can hit the American homeland. Such capabilities pose a grave challenge to the American peace and the military power that preserves that peace (p.51-p.52).

This report was published approximately three years prior to the invasion of Iraq, and approximately 11 years prior to both the war in Libya and the start of the proxy war in Syria. The central point I am getting at here is that the wars we have seen unfold, and the wars to come, are not just short-term actions taken by the administration who happens to be in power at that particular time. They are planned years and sometimes decades prior to the first shot being fired. Regardless of which party the President belongs to – George Bush invaded Iraq with a red tie on, whilst Barack Obama bombed Libya with a blue one on – the same regime-change agenda continues.

Two Down, Three to Go

Although there were other reports that marked more countries that the neocons considered ‘hostile’ to the US, or more accurately, hostile to US (Western) imperial ambitions, the September 2000 report focused on five countries. With Iraq and Libya already ‘liberated,’ three countries are still on the hitlist: Syria, Iran and North Korea. Coincidentally (or not), these are some of the main countries that the Trump administration is targeting, and we are only a few months into Trump’s reign.

Syria: Trump has already bombed Syrian government forces – or forces fighting on the side of the Syrian government – on multiple occasions since being elected. After Trump bombed Syria back in April, both Kaganand Kristol praised him, yet demanded more blood. Even though they claimed not to be major supporters of Trump during the campaign, many Bush-era hawks were – including Rumsfeld, the former Defense Secretary. The Trump administration has also admitted sending hundreds of US troops – which includes Marines – into Syria, officially in order to fight against ISIS (through training and advising rebel forces), yet it’s clear the move has as much to do with the Syrian and Iranian governments than anything else.

Iran: Throughout Trump’s campaign for the White House, he repeatedly criticized both Iran and North Korea. Trump has always been a severe critic of the Iranian nuclear deal, and a loyal supporter of the state of Israel, meaning war with Iran seems more probable that not. In fact, Iran has claimed that Trump and Saudi Arabia are behind the recent terror attacks in Tehran, which ISIS has claimed responsibility for.

During his trip to Saudi Arabia last month, Trump took the opportunity to take another jab at Iran. In February, the US Defense Secretary, James “Mad Dog” Mattis, called Iran the “biggest state sponsor of terrorism in the world,” completely ignoring the role Saudi Arabia plays in exporting terrorism. It appears as though the Trump administration is in the process of deciding which path to Persia it thinks is going to be the most effective.

North Korea: In relation to North Korea, the Trump administration has essentially backed the country into a corner, producing the obvious response from North Korea: an (attempted) show of strength. A country that the US carpet bombed during the Korean war – which included using napalm – it hardly seems likely that North Korea is just going to give in to US threats, considering the resentment many in the country still feel towards America.

This is not a defense of North Korea, but the Trump administration making one provocative statement after another has hardly reduced tensions in the region. In March, Mattis said that “reckless” North Korea has “got to be stopped.” The following month, Trump said North Korea is a problem that “will be taken care of.” Although Mattis has acknowledged that a conflict with North Korea would be “catastrophic,” the Trump administration appears to be willing to ratchet up tensions regardless.

In contrast, both Russia and China have emphasized that dialogue and diplomacy trump threats. Speaking in May, the Russian President, Vladimir Putin, said that “we have to stop intimidating North Korea” and “return to dialogue” with them, after affirming that Russia “is against expanding the pool of nuclear powers, including North Korea.” Also in May, the Chinese Foreign Ministry called for the US and North Korea to “stop irritating each other,” and advocated “dialogue and negotiation.”

It also important to note that the North Korean issue is really about a lot more than just North Korea. As Paul Craig Roberts has highlighted, the North Korean ‘crisis’ has everything to do with Russia and China. Similar to how the US used the Iranian ‘threat’ to put anti-ballistic missile systems close to Russia’s borders, the North Korean crisis can be used to deploy anti-ballistic missiles systems next to the eastern borders of Russia and China. In a positive development, however, the South Korean government has just announced (at the time of writing anyway) that it will halt the deployment of the US anti-ballistic missile system – known as the Terminal High Altitude Area Defense (THAAD) – on its territory for potentially up to a year, citing environmental concerns.

If the Trump administration and the neocons are actually reckless enough to try and force regime change in all three countries in the near future, this brings the US into direct confrontation with both Russia and China. And if a hot war between these three nuclear powers erupts, this would mark the end of human civilization as we know it.


Steven MacMillan is an independent writer, researcher, geopolitical analyst and editor of The Analyst Report, especially for the online magazine “New Eastern Outlook”., where this article first appeared.

SENATE (WHITE FREEMASONS AND ZIONIST JEWS) PASSES IRAN ‘NON-NUCLEAR’ SANCTIONS BILL

 

WASHINGTON – The US Senate voted overwhelmingly on Thursday for a bill that would punish Iran for its ballistic missile activity, its human rights record and support for proxy terrorist organizations worldwide – its first legislative attack against the Islamic Republic since a landmark nuclear deal was reached among world powers and its government two years ago.

Passage of the bill should have no effect on the nuclear deal, argue its authors, who aim to target “non-nuclear” Iranian behavior deemed a threat to the region by Republicans and Democrats alike. But Iranian officials have warned the act may well threaten the accord, formally known as the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action, as it would levy sanctions against some individuals and bodies promised relief under the deal.

 

Several entities that were once targeted by nuclear sanctions are also involved in Iran’s non-nuclear “malign” behavior, creating a challenge for lawmakers to delineate and explain their targets.

The bill now proceeds to the House of Representatives, where is likely to pass it in similar form. US President Donald Trump has not commented on the legislation, nor have his aides committed his signature to it.

US Secretary of State Rex Tillerson requested “flexibility” in any future sanctions legislation from Congress when testifying on Capitol Hill this week. The State Department is currently undergoing two major reviews of Iran policy: One of the nuclear deal specifically, and another of US policy toward Tehran generally.

After a warming of ties between the Rouhani government and the Obama administration during the nuclear talks, Tillerson has yet to reach out to his Iranian counterpart, Javad Zarif, he said. He expects they will speak “at the right time.”

Out of 100 members, 98 senators voted in favor of the legislation, which also included new sanctions against Russia. Independent Senator Bernie Sanders of Vermont and Republican Rand Paul of Kentucky voted against.

The American Israel Public Affairs Committee, which pushed for the legislation, praised its Senate passage as a demonstration to Congress’ continued “engagement” on the matter. Meanwhile, the National Iranian American Council, which supports the nuclear deal, said the bill amounted to a “new toy” with which Trump could “wreak havoc” in the Middle East.

Iran sends 5 planes of food to embargo-stricken Qatar

TEHRAN, Iran — Iran has sent five planes of food to Qatar, Iran’s national carrier told AFP on Sunday, days after Gulf countries cut off air and other transport links to the emirate.

“So far five planes carrying perishable food items such as fruit and vegetables have been sent to Qatar, each carrying around 90 tons of cargo, while another plane will be sent today,” Iran Air spokesman Shahrokh Noushabadi said.

“We will continue deliveries as long as there is demand” from Qatar, Noushabadi added, without mentioning if these deliveries were exports or aid.

Three ships loaded with 350 ton of food were also set to leave an Iranian port for Qatar, the Tasnim news agency quoted a local official as saying.

The port of Dayyer is Iran’s closest port to Qatar.

In the biggest diplomatic crisis in the region in years, Saudi Arabia, Bahrain and the United Arab Emirates, plus Egypt and Yemen, on Monday announced they were cutting all ties with Qatar, accusing it of supporting extremism.

Iran has urged Qatar and neighboring Gulf countries to engage in dialogue to resolve their dispute.

The Islamic republic has also opened its airspace to about 100 more Qatari flights a day, after Saudi Arabia, Bahrain and the United Arab Emirates banned Qatari planes from their air space.

The new flights have increased Iranian air traffic by 17 percent, the official state news agency has reported.

Iran: Tehran attackers had been to IS bastions Mosul, Raqqa

TEHRAN (AFP) — Iran said Thursday that the five Iranians who killed 17 people in twin attacks in Tehran were Islamic State members who had been to the terror group’s strongholds in Iraq and Syria.

The attacks on Wednesday at Tehran’s parliament complex and the shrine of revolutionary leader Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini wounded more than 50 people and were the first claimed by IS in Iran.

“The five known terrorists… after joining the Daesh (IS) terrorist group, left the country and participated in crimes carried out by this terrorist group in Mosul and Raqqa,” the intelligence ministry said in a statement.

It suggested there were only five attackers rather than the six originally reported.

The ministry released their photographs and first names, and said they were part of a network that entered Iran in July-August 2016 under the leadership of “high-ranking Daesh commander” Abu Aisha intending to carry out “terrorist operations in religious cities.”

Abu Aisha was killed and the network forced to flee the country, the statement said. It was not clear when the five men returned to Iran ahead of Wednesday’s attacks.

Iran denounced Donald Trump’s reaction to the attacks as “repugnant” after the US president said the nation was reaping what it sowed.

Trump said the US would “grieve and pray” for the victims, but added: “We underscore that states that sponsor terrorism risk falling victim to the evil they promote.”

That was condemned by Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif, who tweeted: “Repugnant WH (White House) statement… as Iranians counter terror backed by US clients.”

Repugnant WH statement & Senate sanctions as Iranians counter terror backed by US clients.Iranian people reject such US claims of friendship

‘Terrorist network’

The attackers were armed with rifles and pistols and at least two blew themselves up with suicide vests, Iranian media reported.

Police said a further five people were arrested around Khomeini’s shrine on suspicion of involvement.

In the midst of the unfolding attacks, the intelligence ministry said a third team had been stopped before the attacks started, but no further details have since been given.

“The network of this terrorist group has been identified and some of its members have been arrested,” Intelligence Minister Mahmoud Alavi said.

“We still cannot judge that Saudi Arabia has had a role in this terrorist incident,” he added.

Iran’s elite Revolutionary Guards have pointed the finger at regional rival Saudi Arabia — a close US ally — which Iran accuses of funding extremism and groups including IS.

IS has threatened to step up recruitment within Iran, releasing its first Persian-language video in March in which it threatened to “conquer Iran and restore it to the Sunni Muslim nation as it was before.”

The Sunni jihadists of IS consider Shiite Iran to be apostates, and Tehran is deeply involved in fighting the group in both Syria and Iraq.

‘Counter-productive’

Trump’s comments brought criticism from Iranians on social media, who recalled their government’s offers of support and the candlelight vigils held in Iran after the attacks of September 11, 2001 in the United States.

“Iranians lit candles for you on 9/11. You kick them while they’re down. Classy,” tweeted Ali Ghezelbash, an Iranian business analyst.

View image on Twitter

Are you motherf***ers for real??!! Iranians lit candles for you on 9/11. You kick them while they’re down. Classy.  

The US president has long accused Iran of backing terrorism and has threatened to tear up a 2015 nuclear deal between Tehran and major powers.

Trump’s statement is “counter-productive and further narrows the opportunity for engagement between the US and Iran on countering a common enemy,” said Ellie Geranmayeh, senior fellow with the European Council on Foreign Relations.

Even as Washington expressed its condolences on Wednesday, the US Senate advanced legislation that would impose new sanctions on Iran, partly for what the bill described as the Iranian regime’s “support for acts of international terrorism.”

Sunni Gulf Arab states are in the midst of a major diplomatic crisis after Saudi Arabia and its allies cut ties with Qatar on Monday over claims it supports extremism and has fewer tensions with Iran.

Iranian leaders sought to play down the attacks, with supreme leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei saying: “These firecrackers that happened today will not have the slightest effect on the will of the people.”

Trump to Iran: States backing terror risk ‘falling victim’ themselves

US President Donald Trump on Wednesday expressed sympathy for the victims of a terror attack in Iran that killed 13 people, but issued a barbed warning that the country was reaping what it sowed.

“We grieve and pray for the innocent victims of the terrorist attacks in Iran, and for the Iranian people, who are going through such challenging times,” Trump said in a brief statement.

“We underscore that states that sponsor terrorism risk falling victim to the evil they promote.”

Earlier, US State Department spokeswoman Heather Nauert said that “the depravity of terrorism has no place in a peaceful, civilized world.”

“We express our condolences to the victims and their families, and send our thoughts and prayers to the people of Iran,” she added.

Trump has long accused Iran of backing terrorism. During last year’s presidential campaign, he suggested that one of his top priorities was to dismantle the “disastrous” 2015 deal aimed at preventing Iran from acquiring nuclear weapons in exchange for the lifting of sanctions.

As president, he has maintained his criticism of Iran — during a visit to Israel last month Trump said Tehran now feels “emboldened” by the nuclear accord — but has not tampered with the agreement.

A United Nations watchdog group confirmed in June that Iran was adhering to the deal.

Even as Washington expressed its condolences over the terror strike, the US Senate advanced legislation Wednesday that would impose new sanctions on Iran, partly for what the bill described as the Iranian regime’s “support for acts of international terrorism.”

Lawmakers voted 92 to 7 to clear a procedural hurdle, setting up a later vote on final passage.

But Republicans and Democrats alike said they are eager to add an amendment that would slap fresh sanctions on Russia in response to US intelligence conclusions that the Kremlin conducted or approved cyberattacks on US targets in an effort to sway the presidential election.

“In the last eight months, what price has Russia paid for attacking American democracy? Hardly any at all,” Republican Senator John McCain said. “We need a strong Russia sanctions amendment. We need it now.”

Senate Democrat Dianne Feinstein said it was “the wrong time” to pass fresh sanctions on Iran.

“The country has just suffered from two significant terrorist attacks after electing a moderate government with 57 percent of the vote,” she said. “We need to give Iran the opportunity to recover and set a new course.”

Iran’s supreme leader shrugged off the attacks by gunmen and suicide bombers in Tehran, the first in Iran by the Islamic State group.

“These fire-crackers that happened today will not have the slightest effect on the will of the people,” Ayatollah Ali Khamenei said after the twin attacks, which also left dozens injured.

The attackers struck at Iran’s most potent symbols: its parliament complex in central Tehran and the mausoleum of Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini who led the 1979 Islamic revolution.

President Hassan Rouhani called for global unity against violent extremism.

“Iran’s message as always is that terrorism is a global problem, and unity to fight extremism, violence and terrorism with regional and international cooperation is the most important need of today’s world,” he said in a statement.

The country’s powerful Revolutionary Guards vowed revenge and claimed the United States and Saudi Arabia were “involved.”

The standoff lasted around five hours before all the gunmen holed up in parliamentary office buildings were killed.

A picture taken on June 7, 2017, shows a police helicopter flying around outside the mausoleum of Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini in Tehran. Gunmen and suicide bombers stormed Iran's parliament and the shrine of its revolutionary leader, killing 12 people in the first attacks in the country claimed by the Islamic State group. / AFP PHOTO / MIZA NEWS / Hasan SHIRVANI

IS released a video of the attackers from inside the building via its Amaq propaganda agency — a rare claim of responsibility while an attack was still going on, suggesting a degree of coordination.

The Sunni jihadists of IS consider Shiite Iran to be apostates, and Tehran is deeply involved in fighting the group in both Syria and Iraq.

The assaults began mid-morning when four gunmen burst into the parliament complex, killing a guard and one other person, according to the ISNA news agency.

The parliament attackers were in their early 20s and spoke Arabic, according to a Revolutionary Guards intelligence official.

Another official said they were dressed as women and entered through the visitors’ entrance. One eventually exploded a suicide vest while the others were killed by security forces.

One man, recovering in a hospital bed, told state TV he was waiting to meet an MP when the shooting began.

“I was in the visitors’ lobby and suddenly shooting began. There were women and children. I escaped towards the parliament, and was shot in the leg while running,” he said.

At roughly the same time, two assailants entered the grounds of the Khomeini mausoleum, killing a gardener and wounding several other people.

One detonated a suicide vest, while the other was shot dead.

It was not clear whether the shrine attackers were women, as earlier reported, or just wearing female clothing.

Iran’s emergency services said a total of 13 people were killed in the two attacks and 46 wounded.

In a statement after the attacks, the Guards said they “will never allow the blood of innocents to be spilt without revenge”..

Iranian policemen evacuate a child from the parliament building in Tehran during a terror attack, June. (AFP PHOTO / FARS NEWS / OMID VAHABZADEH)

“This terrorist action… after the meeting of the president of the United States with the leader of the one of the region’s reactionary governments (Saudi Arabia)… shows they are involved,” it added, referring to Trump’s recent visit to Riyadh.

Parliament was in session as the violence unfolded and members were keen to show they were undeterred, posting selfies showing themselves as calm and continuing with regular business.

Meanwhile, gunshots continued in the neighboring office buildings, with police helping staff to escape from windows and snipers taking position from rooftops.

Speaker Ali Larijani dismissed the attacks, saying they were a “trivial matter.”

The intelligence ministry said there had been a third “terrorist” team that was neutralized before the attacks started.

Tehran was on lockdown, with streets blocked and parts of the metro closed.

Others also drew a link to Trump’s visit to Saudi Arabia, which Iran accuses of funding IS.

“For these two actions to happen… after this meeting means that the US and Saudi regimes had ordered their stooges to do this,” said Mohammad Hossein Nejat, deputy head of the Revolutionary Guards intelligence branch, according to the Fars news agency.

Messages of support were sent by Russian President Vladimir Putin and the Syrian foreign ministry.

The three countries are close allies in the fight against rebels and jihadist groups in Syria. Iran has also been helping to battle IS in Iraq, which also sent its condolences.

This has made Iran, the predominant Shiite power, a priority target for IS, which published a rare video in Persian in March warning that it “will conquer Iran and restore it to the Sunni Muslim nation as it was before.”

Jihadist groups have clashed frequently with Iranian security forces along the borders with Iraq and Afghanistan, but the country has largely escaped attacks within its urban centers.

The intelligence ministry said in June 2016 that it had foiled an IS plot to carry out multiple bomb attacks in Tehran and around the country.

7 said killed, 4 taken hostage in raid on Iranian parliament

http://www.timesofisrael.com/one-dead-hostages-taken-during-attack-on-iranian-parliament/?utm_source=The+Times+of+Israel+Daily+Edition&utm_campaign=5f43b6f8a5-EMAIL_CAMPAIGN_2017_06_07&utm_medium=email&utm_term=0_adb46cec92-5f43b6f8a5-55201169

 

Two people were confirmed killed and several others were reported injured after armed men burst into Tehran’s parliament building and the mausoleum of revolutionary founder Ruhollah Khomeini on Wednesday, with state media reporting at least two suicide bombings. The Islamic State group claimed responsibility for the assaults — a highly unusual direct confrontation with the Iranian regime, focused on resonant symbols of its authority.

Citing unconfirmed reports, the Mehr news agency said seven people were killed in parliament and four were being held hostage. One security guard was confirmed killed during an exchange of gunfire in a corridor of the parliament, and several people were injured.

The attacks began midmorning when assailants armed with Kalashnikov rifles stormed the parliament building. One of the attackers later blew himself up inside, where a session had been in progress, according to a statement carried by Iran’s state TV.

Deputy Interior Minister Mohammad Hossein Zolfaghari told Iran’s state TV the apparently male attackers wore women’s attire.

An injured police officer receives medical care outside the Iranian parliament after a shooting attack on Wednesday, June 7, 2017 (screen capture: Mehr news agency)

An Associated Press reporter saw several police snipers on the rooftops of buildings around the parliament. Shops in the area were shuttered, and gunfire could be heard. Witnesses said the attackers were shooting from the fourth floor of the parliament building down at people in the streets below.

“I was passing by one of the streets. I thought that children were playing with fireworks, but I realized people are hiding and lying down on the streets,” Ebrahim Ghanimi, who was around the parliament building when the assailants stormed in, told The Associated Press. “With the help of a taxi driver, I reached a nearby alley.”

Police helicopters circled over the parliament building and all mobile phone lines from inside were disconnected. The semi-official ISNA news agency said all entrance and exit gates at parliament were closed and that lawmakers and reporters were ordered to remain in place inside the chamber.

There were conflicting reports from inside the parliament complex, with some reports saying the situation had been brought under control, while others said the shooting was continuing, with the buildings under lockdown.

Another video of the Parliament, intense shooting can be heard 

ISNA reported that the shooters had been surrounded but had yet to be arrested.

An Iranian-based correspondent for the news agency Bloomberg tweeted that one of the gunmen had managed to escape from the parliament building and was shooting in the streets close by.

Meanwhile, an apparently coordinated attack by four terrorists, one of them a suicide bomber, took place at the tomb of Khomeini in southern Tehran, around 20 kilometers (12 miles) from the parliament building.

An armed attacker entered at the western entrance of the mausoleum and opened fire before blowing herself up with a suicide vest, the site’s head of public relations Ali Khalili told the IRNA news agency. A gardener was reportedly killed.

A second attacker, also a woman, who was equipped with six grenades, was killed by security guards, while a third committed suicide by swallowing cyanide. The fourth attacker was reportedly arrested.

The body of a suspected terrorist, at background left, lies on the ground while police control the scene at the shrine of late Iranian revolutionary founder Ayatollah Khomeini, just outside Tehran, Iran, Wednesday, June 7, 2017 (AP Photo/Ebrahim Noroozi)

The ILNA news agency said five people were injured by gunfire there, while other reports put that figure as high as eight.

In addition to being lethal, the attack on the shrine of Khomeini is symbolically stunning. As Iran’s first Supreme Leader, Khomeini is a towering figure in the country and was its revolutionary leader in the 1979 ouster of the shah.

An Associated Press reporter saw security forces, some uniformed and others in plainclothes, around the large and ornate shrine.

The Islamic State group claimed responsibility for both attacks in a statement carried by its Amaq news agency.

Shiite Iran has been singled out as a target by Sunni jihadists, including the Islamic State, but has largely escaped attacks within its urban centers.

Iran, and its Lebanese proxy Hezbollah, provides key ground forces against rebel groups in Syria and Iraq.