Iran Denounces New US Bans on Cuba

Iranian foreign ministry spokesman has slammed Washington for imposition of new bans and restrictions on Cuba.

“The Islamic Republic of Iran rejects the new [US] restrictions against Cuba, and does believe that the world experience has proven sanctions are ineffective as a tool to exert pressure on independent nations in order to undermine their determination,” Iran’s Foreign Ministry Spokesman Bahram Qassemi said.

In a Farsi interview with IRNA, he said Washington has a dark record of imposing such sanctions on independent peoples.

“The Cuban people’s resistance and resolve over the past five decades have rendered ineffective all policies and measures adopted by the US to bully as well as impose sanctions and exert pressure on this country,” the spokesman said.

He said it is surprising that American politicians have not yet learned a lesson from past experience and continue to pursue their futile, wrong and useless policies and insist on ignoring the independence of nations, showing off their policy of bullying to the international community more than ever.

Qassemi condemned and expressed regret over Washington’s move against Cuba, and added Iran follows a policy of backing independent nations around the world.

US President Donald Trump on Friday that the US would impose new limits on US travelers to Cuba and ban any payments to the military-linked conglomerate that controls much of the island’s tourism industry.

He said the US would consider lifting those and other restrictions only after Cuba returned fugitives and made a series of other internal changes including freeing political prisoners, allowing freedom of assembly and holding free elections.

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‘Death to Saudi & US’: Thousands of mourners attend funeral for Tehran attack victims

Thousands have turned out to mourn the victims of the Tehran attacks, shouting "Death to Saudi Arabia" and "Death to America." It comes after Iranian leaders accused Washington and Riyadh of supporting the attacks which killed 17 people earlier this week.

Crowds gathered on the streets of the Iranian capital to shout slogans against the US, Saudi Arabia, and Israel on Friday, while reaching out to touch coffins wrapped in flags and covered in flowers.  

Earlier on Friday, Iran's supreme leader, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, said the attacks would only increase Tehran's hatred against the US and its "stooges" including Saudi Arabia.

The attack "will not damage the Iranian nation's determination and the obvious result is nothing except an increase in hate for the governments of the United States and their stooges in the region like Saudi (Arabia)," he said ahead of the funeral, according to state media.


Members of Iranian forces run during an attack on the Iranian parliament in central Tehran, Iran, June 7, 2017 © Omid Vahabzadeh

During the funeral, Iranian parliament speaker Ali Larijani called the US the "international" version of Islamic State (IS, formerly ISIS/ISIL). He also accused Washington of exchanging democracy for money, referencing a massive arms deal recently agreed between the US and Saudi Arabia.

He went on to state that anti-Iranian remarks by Saudi Arabia's foreign minister and US President Donald Trump were a "matter of disgrace."

Larijani criticized a step by the US Senate to proceed with a new set of sanctions against Iran, including its elite Revolutionary Guards. The US decision was confirmed on the same day as the Tehran attacks.

The comments come just one day after Iran's intelligence minister, Mahmoud Alavai, said investigators were working to determine whether Riyadh had a role in Wednesday's attacks, but that it was too soon to reach a conclusion. However, Iran's Revolutionary Guards (IRGC) didn't waste any time blaming Saudi Arabia for the attacks.

"This terrorist attack happened only a week after the meeting between the US president (Donald Trump) and the (Saudi) backward leaders who support terrorists. The fact that Islamic State has claimed responsibility proves that they were involved in the brutal attack," a Wednesday statement from the Revolutionary Guards said, as quoted by Reuters.

IRGC Brigadier General Hossein Salami also vowed that Iran would "take revenge" for the attacks.


© ali javid

“Let there be no doubt that we will take revenge for today's attacks in Tehran, on terrorists, their affiliates and their supporters,” he said on Wednesday, as quoted by Mehr news agency.

Saudi Arabia's foreign minister was quick to reject allegations that Riyadh was involved, saying on Wednesday that the country "condemns terrorist attacks anywhere they occur and we condemn the killing of the innocent anywhere it occurs."

Meanwhile, Iran's interior ministry said Friday that a total of 41 suspects linked to the attacks have been arrested.

"With the help of security forces and families of the suspects, 41 people linked to the attacks and to Daesh (Islamic State) have been arrested in different provinces," the ministry said, according to state TV cited by Reuters.

"Lots of documents and weaponry have been seized as well," it added.

The intelligence ministry also said forces stormed multiple "safe houses" linked to IS in northwest Iran, according to state media.

Two guards, 10 government staffers, and five civilians were killed in the Wednesday attacks which targeted the country's parliament and shrine of the late founder of Iran, Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini. Fifty-two others were injured in the attacks, according to the Interior Ministry. IS claimed responsibility for the assaults, and threatened more against Iran's Shiite majority.

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‘Repugnant’: Iran slams Trump’s condolences to Tehran attacks victims

Iran’s foreign minister has branded condolences sent by the White House over recent Tehran attacks as “repugnant.” The US administration sent sympathies to Iran, but lectured that “states that sponsor terrorism risk falling victim to the evil they promote.”

“Repugnant White House statement … as Iranians counter terrorism backed by US clients. Iranian people reject such US claims of friendship,” Javad Zarif tweeted.

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

At least 13 people died and dozens were injured in gun and bomb attacks at the Iranian parliament and Ayatollah Khomeini’s shrine in Tehran on Wednesday. The attacks were claimed by Islamic state (IS, formerly ISIS/ISIL), said Amaq news agency, which is affiliated with the terrorists.

The five attackers were Iranian citizens who had joined IS before returning to Iran in summer 2016, the Iranian Intelligence Ministry confirmed on Thursday.

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

READ MORE: Sponsors of terror ‘falling victim to evil they promote’ ‒ Trump on Tehran attacks

On Wednesday evening, the White House sent condolences to Iran, including the controversial cautionary note.

“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,” the White House said in a statement. “We underscore that states that sponsor terrorism risk falling victim to the evil they promote.” 

Iran’s Revolutionary Guards [IRGC] accused Saudi Arabia of masterminding the attacks, saying that the assaults “happened only a week after the meeting between the US president [Donald Trump] and the [Saudi] backward leaders who support terrorists.”

Brigadier General Hossein Salami, IRGC deputy commander, vowed to “take revenge” for the attacks.

“Let there be no doubt that we will take revenge for today's attacks in Tehran, on terrorists, their affiliates and their supporters,” he said, Mehr news agency reported.

Saudi Arabia’s foreign minister, Adel Al-Jubeir, rejected Tehran’s accusations.

“We condemn terrorist attacks anywhere they occur and we condemn the killing of the innocent anywhere it occurs,” Jubeir said.

According to the director of the Crisis Research Institute, Mark Almond, it is highly possible IS was, as it claims, behind the attacks in Iran as the group is interested in stirring up a Sunni-Shiite conflict. However, other groups and regional player involvement can’t be ruled out, he added.

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Time to assassinate Syrian President Assad & get to his allies in Iran – Israeli minister

An Israeli minister has bluntly called for Syrian leader Bashar Assad to be assassinated after unsourced media reports claimed Damascus was using a “crematorium” to cover-up mass killings. He said the “serpent’s head” in Tehran should be dealt with next.

“The reality whereby Syria executes people, intentionally uses chemical weapons to hurt them and, now, in the most recent move of extremism, is burning their bodies – this has not been seen in the world in 70 years,” said Israeli Housing Minister Yoav Galant, as cited by Haaretz. 

© Kacper Pempel

“We are crossing a red line and, in my view, the time has come to assassinate Assad,” he continued.

“And when we finish with the tail of the serpent, we will reach the head of the serpent, which can be found in Tehran, and we will deal with it, too,” he said.

What appears to be the first recorded Israeli threat to assassinate Syrian President Bashar Assad came after the US Department of State alleged, without presenting any hard evidence, that the Syrian government is using “a crematorium” outside Damascus to burn the bodies of people killed by the government.

Earlier on Tuesday, Galant told Israeli Army Radio that Assad’s rule has been the worst since Nazi Germany. “What is happening in Syria is defined as genocide, under all its classifications,” he said on Army Radio, according to Jerusalem Post.

Galant, a retired IDF general, added that Israel wants to see Assad and his Alawite government ousted from power and replaced by a “moderate Sunni ruler.”

READ MORE: More Arabs view Israel positively than Jews, poll reveals

Some previous attempts to compare Assad’s government to the Nazi regime have been met with public outcry. White House spokesman Sean Spicer, who claimed that Hitler’s death squads hadn’t used chemical agents during the Holocaust “in the way that Assad used them” sparked outrage in the US and beyond.

Certain journalists have used the Assad-Hitler comparison when covering claims that Syrian forces have used chemical weapons, but those remarks were dismissed by the public.

Assad, a UK-educated doctor, has been in power since the 1999 passing of his father, Syria’s long-time president, Hafez Assad. Syria is one of the few Arab countries where the president is elected through a nationwide vote.

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Iran's Revolutionary Guards blame Saudis for Tehran attacks, Riyadh rejects accusation

Iran’s Revolutionary Guards have accused Saudi Arabia of masterminding the deadly attacks in Tehran on Wednesday, a claim which Riyadh has denied. Islamic State previously claimed responsibility for the attacks which killed at least 12 people.

"This terrorist attack happened only a week after the meeting between the U.S. president (Donald Trump) and the (Saudi) backward leaders who support terrorists. The fact that Islamic State has claimed responsibility proves that they were involved in the brutal attack," said the statement, as quoted by Reuters. 

Saudi Arabia's foreign minister, Adel Al-Jubeir, has denied that Riyadh was involved in the attacks.

"We condemn terrorist attacks anywhere they occur and we condemn the killing of the innocent anywhere it occurs," Jubeir said, as quoted by Reuters.

He went on to state that there is no evidence to implicate Saudi Arabia in the attacks, and that Riyadh has no knowledge of who was responsible. 

"We don’t know this. We haven’t seen the evidence," he said, reiterating Riyadh's position that Iran is the primary sponsor of terrorism around the world. 

Earlier, Brigadier General Hossein Salami, IRGC deputy commander, said that Iran will "take revenge" for the attacks.

Let there be no doubt that we will take revenge for today's attacks in Tehran, on terrorists, their affiliates and their supporters,” he said, as cited by the news agency Mehr.

© / Global Look Press 

Meanwhile, Iranian President Hassan Rouhani said the attacks will make the country more united.

"Today's terrorist attacks in Tehran will make the Islamic Republic of Iran more determined in the fight against regional terrorism, extremism and violence," he said in a statement published by ISNA news agency.

"We will prove once again that we will crush the enemies' plots with more unity and more strength." 

Twelve people were reported killed and 43 injured in gun and bomb attacks in the Iranian capital. The perpetrators targeted the Iranian parliament and Ayatollah Khomeini’s shrine.

Both attacks were claimed by Islamic State (IS, formerly ISIS/ISIL), the jihadist organization based in Iraq and Syria. Iran supports both countries in their fight against IS.

IS also threatened Iran's majority Shiite population with more attacks, saying "the caliphate will not miss a chance to spill their blood" until Sharia law is implemented, Reuters reported.

The attacks in Tehran were the first that IS had claimed responsibility for in the Shiite Islamic republic.

The timing of the attacks, shortly after a presidential election in Iran, may indicate that the perpetrators want to cast doubt on the decision of the Iranian people to give President Hassan Rouhani a second term, Middle East expert Catherine Shakdam told RT.

Iran has just conducted quite successfully its presidential election. Everything went according to plan, it was peaceful, it was progressive,” she said.

There is a clear desire to drive a narrative of fear and to make people have a sense of insecurity and doubt their officials and how they can protect their own borders.”

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Multiple Dead in Suicide Attacks on Iran Parliament

Four gunmen reportedly burst into Tehran’s parliament complex with rifles and a pistol, and one of the attackers blew himself up on the fourth floor.

Gunmen and suicide bombers reportedly carried out a coordinated attack on Iran’s parliament.

RELATED: Ayatollah: Saudi Arabia Is a 'Cow Milked' by U.S.

Four gunmen reportedly burst into Tehran’s parliament complex with rifles and a pistol, and one of the attackers blew himself up on the fourth floor, the semi-official ISNA news agency reported.

At least 12 people have died and dozens injured, the head of Iran's emergency department, Pir-Hossein Kolivand, was quoted as saying by state broadcaster IRIB.

There were also other unsubstantiated sources reporting that a number of members of parliament were taken hostage.

It is unclear how the attackers breached the security checkpoints to enter the parliament building.

Police helicopters were hovering over the building, entrance and exit gates were closed, and mobile phones were jammed.

Chamber reporters were ordered to stay put.

A Jamaran News image said to be of the moment the attacker detonated a suicide belt at the Khomeini shrine.

Witnesses said the attackers were shooting from the fourth floor of the parliament building down at people in the streets below.

Ebrahim Ghanimi, who was passing the building when the attack occurred told the Associated Press: “I thought that children were playing with fireworks, but I realized people were hiding and lying down on the streets.”

Approximately half an hour after the first attack, three to four individuals entered the western entrance of Khomeini’s tomb complex and opened fire. One attacker also reportedly detonated a suicide belt.

The ILNA agency said security forces were dismantling a bomb at the mausoleum, which is in southern Tehran, about 12 miles from the parliament building.

Iran’s intelligence ministry said a third plot was foiled.

The state broadcaster Irib reported that the ministry said: “Members of a third group were arrested before being able to carry out any attack.”

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Saudi Arabia will be razed except for Mecca & Medina if it attacks Iran – defense minister

Responding to Saudi Arabia’s latest threats to take their conflict inside Iran, Tehran said it will leave nothing standing in the kingdom except for Muslim holy cities of Mecca and Medina if the Saudis do anything “ignorant,” Al-Manar reports.

© Morteza Nikoubazl

“We warn them against doing anything ignorant, but if they do something ignorant, we will leave nowhere untouched apart from Mecca and Medina,” Iranian Defense Minister Hossein Dehghan told Arabic-speaking Al-Manar channel, as cited by Reuters

“They think they can do something because they have an air force,” he added in an apparent reference to Riyadh’s bombing of Yemen, where Iran-affiliated Houthi forces are being routinely targeted by the Saudi Air Force.

Dehghan’s comment followed unusually blunt remarks by Saudi Deputy Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, who said on Tuesday that any struggle for influence between Riyadh and Tehran would take place “inside Iran, not in Saudi Arabia.”

In a rare interview broadcast on multiple Saudi TV channels, the 31-year-old prince, who was named in 2015 by his father, King Salman, as successor to the throne, outlined his vision of modern-day Iran.

Making use of sectarian terms, Prince Salman said Iran is eager “to control the Islamic world” and to spread its Shiite doctrine, according to AP.

When asked if there is a mere possibility to mend ties with Iran, the prince said: “How can I come to an understanding with someone, or a regime, that has an anchoring belief built on extremist ideology?” 

The prince, who is also in charge of the Sunni kingdom’s economy, argued that the predominantly-Shiite Iran aims to reach Mecca – the holiest site for all Muslims.

Saudi Defense Minister and Deputy Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman. © Fayez Nureldine

“We will not wait until the fight is inside Saudi Arabia and we will work so that the battle is on their side, inside Iran, not in Saudi Arabia,” he threatened without elaborating.

Ties between regional powers Saudi Arabia and Iran have been strained since the 1979 Islamic Revolution, but tensions began to mount rapidly over the past few years.

Perhaps the most significant flare-up happened in January last year, when Riyadh executed Nimr al-Nimr, a prominent Shiite preacher. Massive demonstrations erupted in Tehran, with some protesters ransacking the Saudi embassy and setting it ablaze.

The next day, Saudi Arabia cut diplomatic ties with Iran, though Iranian President Hassan Rouhani said there was no justification for the assault.

The incident took place amid the infamous Saudi intervention in Yemen aimed at restoring the power of ousted President Abdrabbuh Mansour Hadi.

Riyadh accuses Tehran of waging a proxy war there by arming and supplying Houthi rebels, though Iran denies the allegations. According to UN estimates, the Saudi-led invasion of Yemen killed over 13,000 civilians during the two years of the conflict.

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Mahmoud Ahmadinejad Registers to Run for President

Former leader insists he will not run in the May 19 poll, saying his registration aims to support a political ally.

Former Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, in a surprise move, has registered as a candidate for next month's presidential election. He had previously said he would not run, after being so advised by supreme leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei. The Ayatollah suggested Ahmadinejad throw his support behind his former deputy, Hamid Baghaie.

RELATED: Russia, Iran Say U.S. Crossed 'Red Line' in Syria, Vow Response

Ahmadinejad said he remained committed to his "moral promise" to Khamenei of not running for the May 19 election. At the registration center, the former leader stated that the Khamenei's "advice was not a ban. I repeat that I am committed to my moral promise [of not running] and my presence and registration is only to support Mr. Baghaie."

Ahmadinejad left office in August 2013 after two troublesome four-year terms, which left Iran divided, isolated and struggling to find its footing economically.

His 2009 re-election was followed by one the largest protests to hit the country since the Islamic revolution three decades before. Two candidates backed by reformists Mir Hossein Mousavi and Mehdi Karroubi - who have been under house arrest since February 2011 - contested the results. Both Ahmadinejad's terms also sparked anti-Western and anti-Israeli rhetoric, including skepticism towards the Holocaust.

But, Ahmadinejad approach and humble roots make him a popular figure among the poorer sections of society.

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