Iranian parliament declares US Central Command a ‘terrorist organization’

The US Central Command (CENTCOM) has been designated as a “terrorist organization” by the Iranian parliament, in a mirror response to Washington’s blacklisting of Tehran’s Revolutionary Guard.

All organizations, institutions and forces under CENTCOM command were acknowledged to be “terrorists” by the overwhelming majority of the Iranian MPs, who approved the contents of the bill, which also condemns the US move to blacklist the IRGC, an official military branch of the Islamic Republic of Iran’s Armed Forces.

“The Islamic Republic of Iran’s government and Armed Forces are required to adopt preventive actions and preemptive defensive measures whenever necessary, to deter any hostile US forces’ use of any possibilities against the Islamic Republic of Iran’s interests,” the bill states, according to Fars news. Anyone offering military, intelligence, financial, or any other support to CENTCOM and its affiliate forces will be considered supporters of terrorism.

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The 13-article legislation also mandates the general staff to begin gathering intelligence about CENTCOM activities so that the material can be used in Iranian courts to prosecute specific individuals. The bill, however, does not mention the exact mechanisms through which Americans are expected to be brought to justice under Iranian laws.

Last week the US, for the first time ever, designated an official foreign military institution –the IRGC– as a terrorist organization, as tensions between the states were pushed to the limit following President Donald Trump’s unilateral withdrawal from the Iranian Nuclear deal (JCPOA) and the reintroduction of sanctions that followed.

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The Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps has been the elite force of the Islamic Republic under the Grand Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini for the last 40 years, after overthrowing the US-backed Shah Mohammad Reza Pahlavi. While Washington claims that various branches of the IRGC actively participate in Tehran’s “global terrorist campaign,” Iran accuses the US of fearmongering and of waging a smear campaign against it.

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Mass Popular Mobilization in Venezuela on April 6

The speaker of the National Constituent Assembly (ANC) of Venezuela, Diosdado Cabello, called on Thursday to a mass popular mobilization in this capital on April 6 to defend the Bolivarian Revolution.

On his regular program Con el Mazo Dando, broadcast by Venezolana de Television, Cabello assured that the revolutionary forces will fill Caracas 'from end to end' in light of the opposition's desperation.

He ruled out the call by the opposition lawmaker Juan Guaido, who proclaimed himself Venezuela's president in charge, a maneuver scheduled for the same day as part of the so-called Operation Freedom, aimed at destabilizing the country.

On several occasions, Guaido has called on his supporters in the opposition to organize in the next few days for an alleged peaceful occupation of the Miraflores Palace (the Government's venue) and the activation of large-scale local protests.

In that regard, Cabello, who is also the first vice president of the United Socialist Party of Venezuela (PSUV), pointed out that the failure of those calls to mobilization by the speaker of the National Assembly (parliament) in contempt shows Guaido's lack of leadership.

Cabello also revealed the satisfaction by some right-wing spokespersons when they learned that Guaido had been disqualified to hold public posts and that he had been stripped of his parliamentary immunity due to several crimes that he has committed flagrantly.

In that regard, the socialist leader pointed out that the decision made on Tuesday by the Constituent National Assembly, which authorized the judicial power to indict the 'self-proclaimed' president, was adopted in accordance with the Constitution of Venezuela and the legislation in force.

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US Policy on Iran is not Economic War, but Terrorism, Iranian FM Says

Iran's Foreign Minister, Mohammed Yavad Zarif, accused Tuesday the US policy against Tehran of economic terrorism.

By imposing more sanctions against our nation, he said in a message on social media, it is even impeding relief efforts for people affected by the floods throughout the country.

With that decision, said the Iranian Minister, the United States violates U.N. Security Council Resolution 2231 and a ruling of the International Court of Justice.

U.S. sanctions prohibit the Iranian relief organization Red Crescent from purchasing goods and products to help communities devastated by unprecedented flooding.

Blocked equipment, Zarif said, includes rescue helicopters.

'It's not an economic war, he said, but economic terrorism.

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100s of children facing terrorism charges after forced confessions – HRW

A Human Rights Watch (HRW) report claims that Iraqi and Kurdish governments have imprisoned hundreds of children who have been forced, through torture, into confessing that they are Islamic State (IS, formerly ISIS) members.

In a damning 53-page report, released Wednesday, HRW alleges that some 1,500 children have been charged with IS terrorism offences. It says that many are based on dubious accusations and forced confessions extracted via torture.

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In addition, 185 foreign children have already been convicted on terrorism charges and sentenced to prison, according to Iraqi government officials cited by HRW.

This is despite the fact that international law recognizes children, recruited by armed groups, primarily as victims.

“This sweeping, punitive approach is not justice, and will create lifelong negative consequences for many of these children,” said Jo Becker, children’s rights advocacy director for HRW.

Many of the children claim circumstantial evidence, mistaken identity or even personal grievances are behind their detention and that they are sentenced after hastily-prepared trials which can often last mere minutes. They also fear reprisals once they are released.

The Kurdistan Regional Government (KRG), in particular, has been accused of employing “beatings with plastic pipes, electric cables, or rods; electric shocks; and being forced into stress positions,” to elicit confessions.

Can we all agree on one thing at least: torturing children is wrong. New report from Iraq:

“Iraq and the KRG’s harsh treatment of children looks more like blind vengeance than justice for ISIS crimes,” Becker said. “Children involved in armed conflicts are entitled to rehabilitation and reintegration, not torture and prison.”

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Role of Media Facing Terrorism on Debate at UNESCO

Paris, Nov 20 (Prensa Latina) The challenges of the media in dealing with terrorism will focus the debates of a Conference scheduled this Tuesday at UNESCO, the organization stated.

'Terrorism has become one of the most complex issues for the media, presenting difficult ethical questions about reporting conditions, freedom of expression and security,' a statement said.

In that scenario, the text said, 'how can journalists report dramatic and emotion-laden scenes of violence without sensationalism, without playing with the incitement to hatred of terrorists and without reinforcing divisive stereotypes?'

This and other issues will be addressed during the meeting, with the participation of media professionals, representatives of the press regulatory authorities, researchers and representatives of victim associations.

The event is organized by UNESCO and the association that we called 13onze15-Fraternite Verite. The latter is a French non-governmental organization founded after the 2015 Paris terror attacks to support the victims.

The conference will include two roundtable discussions. The first session will address on how media coverage can promote security and respect victims of terrorism.

The second session will focus on how media coverage of these issues can promote tolerance and social cohesion.

France commemorated last week the third anniversary of the November 13, 2015 attacks, in which 130 people were killed and more than 400 were injured.

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US-Led Coalition Strikes Kill 14 Civilians In East Syria: Monitor

Beirut: At least 14 civilians were killed Saturday in US-led coalition air strikes on the ISIS' last holdout in eastern Syria, a monitor said.

"Fourteen civilians, including five children under the age of 18, were killed in the coalition air raids on the villages of Hajin, Sousa and Al-Shaafa" in eastern Deir Ezzor province, the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said.

"The death toll is likely to rise due to the number of seriously wounded," Observatory head Rami Abdel Rahman told AFP.

At least 9 ISIS jihadists were killed in the raids, he added.

The coalition was not immediately available for comment.

Strikes on the area intensified following an attempted jihadist attack on a coalition base in the nearby village of Al-Bahra, the Britain-based monitor said.

ISIS overran large swathes of Syria and neighbouring Iraq in 2014, proclaiming a "caliphate" in land it controlled.

But the jihadist group has since lost most of its territory to various offensives in both countries.

In Syria, the group has seen its presence reduced to parts of the vast Badia desert and a pocket in Deir Ezzor that contains Hajin, Sousa and Al-Shaafa.

A Kurdish-Arab alliance backed by the coalition launched an offensive in September to wrest the Deir Ezzor pocket from IS.

But on Wednesday the alliance, the Syrian Democratic Forces, suspended its fight against the jihadists after Turkish forces fired on the group's positions.

The coalition estimates that 2,000 ISIS fighters remain in the Hajin pocket.

A total of more than 360,000 people have been killed since Syria's war erupted in 2011 with the brutal repression of anti-government protests.

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After nuclear holocaust, we’ll go to heaven as martyrs; attackers will die as sinners – Putin

If any nation decides to attack Russia with nuclear weapons, it may end life on Earth; but unlike the aggressors, the Russians are sure to go to heaven, President Vladimir Putin has said.

“Any aggressor should know that retribution will be inevitable and he will be destroyed. And since we will be the victims of his aggression, we will be going to heaven as martyrs. They will simply drop dead, won’t even have time to repent,” Putin said during a session of the Valdai Club in Sochi.

He added that Russia’s nuclear forces are not tailored for a pre-emptive strike, and exist as a second-strike capability meant to deter an attack by a foreign nation.

The Russian nuclear doctrine allows for the use of this weapon in a conventional conflict, but only if Russia’s existence is at stake. This presumably gives the Russian military a loophole to use tactical nuclear weapons in the case of a large-scale invasion. The self-imposed restrictions are less harsh than a complete ‘no-first-use’ pledge, which was dropped by Moscow in 1993.

The US’ latest nuclear posture review says that Washington may use nuclear weapons in response to a non-nuclear attack on itself or its allies. It remains vague about the exact circumstances that may trigger such an action. This gave rise to speculation that even a cyberattack may permit a nuclear response. Meanwhile, a call for the creation of small-yield submarine-launched missiles and nuclear-capable sea-launched cruise missiles have only added to concerns that the US is stocking up for some kind of large-scale conflict.

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Afghanistan suicide blast in Kabul kills 48, injures 67 – Health Ministry

A suicide blast in the Afghanistan capital of Kabul has killed 48 people, the Health Ministry has said. A further 67 were wounded in the explosion that occurred on Wednesday in a mainly Shi’ite area of the city.

A suspected suicide bomber blew himself up outside an educational center in the western part of the capital.

No one has claimed responsibility for the attack, although Islamic State (formerly ISIS) has previously said it was responsible for attacks on Shi’ite targets.

The incident comes as the government faces pressure over a Taliban attack in the city of Ghazni, which led to five days of fighting in the capital, claiming the lives of hundreds of civilians and members of the security forces.

According to the United Nations, up to 150 civilians have been killed in violence in the strategic provincial capital.

https://cdni.rt.com/files/2018.08/original/5b7438c5dda4c8bf718b456c.jpg An Afghan National Army (ANA) soldier keeps watch at a checkpoint on the Ghazni - Kabul highway. © Reuters/ Mohammad Ismail

While Afghanistan’s Defense Ministry claimed that government forces would soon regain control of the city as “Taliban militants had been pushed back,” civilians at the scene say that fighting is ongoing.

“The Taliban are still roaming the streets and using civilians as human shields. They are scattered inside residential areas which cannot be targeted by airstrikes,” Aziz Ullah Hussaini, a shopkeeper, told the Times.

READ MORE: US changing its tune in Afghanistan as 'barbaric' Taliban becomes bulwark against ISIS

Tens of thousands of people have been trapped in the city since the militant group broke its defenses in the early hours of Friday morning.

Meanwhile, a further 17 soldiers were killed in Kabul on Wednesday after Taliban fighters overran a military base in the north of the capital. The assault came as a huge blow to government forces, which were already stretched as they battled the militant group in Ghazni.

The government has been struggling against a Taliban resurgence since NATO troops withdrew in 2014.

NATO troops have since been in Afghanistan leading a non-combat mission to train, advise and assist Afghan security forces.

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