World News

Iran or its proxies planning ‘sneak attack,’ Trump says

Washington: US President Donald Trump asserted on Wednesday, without citing specific evidence, that Iran or an Iran-backed militia is planning a "sneak attack" on US troops or assets in Iraq and warned that Iran would "pay a very heavy price" if it were carried out.

Official website of the office of the Iranian supreme leader, Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei speaks in a meeting in Tehran, Iran.Credit:AP

The saber rattling from Trump comes as Iran-backed militias are becoming more audacious in attacking US personnel in Iraq, with rocket strikes against military bases occurring more frequently and, for the first time, in broad daylight.

US officials say they are receiving near-daily reports of "imminent" attacks planned against US-linked military or diplomatic facilities.

"Upon information and belief, Iran or its proxies are planning a sneak attack on US troops and/or assets in Iraq," Trump said in his tweet, without providing elaboration. "If this happens, Iran will pay a very heavy price, indeed!"

The tensions come amid a coronavirus pandemic that has increasingly occupied Trump and taken a particularly hard toll on Iran at a time when the United States is expanding sanctions against the country.

It remains unclear how much control Iran maintains over its various proxy groups.

Assistant Secretary of State for Near Eastern Affairs David Schenker told reporters last month that the United States would "take what steps that we see necessary" to retaliate for militia violence. But the administration remains divided over how, or even when, to strike back.

The Washington Post

Source: Read Full Article

World News

Flights from Italy, Iran and China still landing in Britain

Flights from Italy, Iran and China are STILL landing in UK: Visitors from the three nations with highest coronavirus death toll have landed at Gatwick and Heathrow every day in last week despite UK lockdown

  • Thousands of passengers from Italy, China and Iran arrived in Britain this week
  • Flights from Rome, Beijing and Shanghai have landed in London every day 
  • British Airways, easyJet and Ryanair cancelled flights to Rome but route is open
  • European Union banned nearly all travellers from outside the bloc for 30 days  
  • Coronavirus symptoms: what are they and should you see a doctor?

Flights carrying thousands of passengers from the worst-hit coronavirus areas are still landing in Britain.

Passengers from Italy, China and Iran have arrived a Gatwick and Heathrow this week, even as the UK went in to lockdown, shutting bars, cafes, restaurants and banning mass gatherings. 

Planes have arrived in London from Rome, Beijing and Shanghai every day this week. Direct flights from Rome are also still due to arrive next week.

The route between London and Rome has remained open despite British Airways, easyJet and Ryanair cancelling all flights between Italy and Britain. 

This week Italy surpassed China, where the outbreak emerged last December, as the country with the most deaths after fatalities soared to more than 4,800. The Italian government also increased its lockdown measures as a result.

A passenger wearing protective clothing checking in for a flight from Heathrow Airport’s Terminal 5 in London yesterday

Iran Air is still operating three flights a week from the capital Tehran. Iran has the third-highest coronavirus death toll with more than 1,500 fatalities.

On Saturday two Air China flights from Beijing and a China Eastern jet from Shanghai landed at Heathrow, while a flight from Shanghai arrived at Gatwick. 

This afternoon, a flight from Imam Khomeini International Airport in Tehran, is due to arrive at Heatrow Airport at around 3pm this afternoon. 

Travellers coming from China, Iran and Italy with symptoms of the virus are supposed to be stopped from boarding.

On arrival in Britain passengers from these countries are supposed self-isolate for 14 days, although there is no way of actually enforcing this policy.

People waiting for passengers in International Arrivals at Heathrow Terminal 5. Several UK and European carriers are reducing staff and practically grounding their fleets

Last week the European Union banned nearly all travellers from outside the bloc for 30 days as a measure to try and halt the spread of the disease that has sent many countries around the continent into lockdown.

The Foreign Office advised Britons last week not to travel anywhere abroad unless it was essential. 

Non-EU countries, such as India and Kazakhstan, suspended Iran Air flights last week when the crisis in the country deepened. 

Former Secretary of State for Environment, Theresa Villiers, alerted the government to the issue of flights from Tehran after constituents of Iranian descent contacted her about it.

A deserted Heathrow Terminal 5 last week. Some flights are still arriving from coronavirus hotspots such as Italy, Iran and China

She told the Sunday Times: ‘The time has come to suspend routine air travel from Iran. I have raised this issue with the foreign secretary and I would now urge him to take this step.’

A spokesman for the government said: ‘There is no evidence that interventions like closing borders or travel bans would have any effect on the spread of infection.’ 

EasyJet and Ryanair will ground the majority of their fleets from next Tuesday as travel bans around the world kick in.

Other airlines including British Airways, Virgin Atlantic, Norwegian and Jet2 have cut schedules to as little as 10 per cent of normal levels. 

Talks are continuing between the Department for Transport and the Treasury about a rescue deal for airlines and airports, with an announcement thought to be imminent.

Virgin Atlantic said staff had agreed to take eight weeks of unpaid leave over the next three months, with the salary docked from workers’ pay over six months so their income does not dry up.

All 10,000 employees of the company, founded and controlled by Richard Branson, will also be offered voluntary redundancy. 

Source: Read Full Article

World News

Iran warns it could use ‘force’ to halt travel as Egypt ship registers 12 new cases

Tehran: Iran said on Friday the new coronavirus has killed 124 people amid 4747 confirmed cases in the Islamic Republic as authorities warned they may use "force" to limit travel between cities.

Health Ministry spokesman Kianoush Jahanpour offered the figures at a televised news conference. He did not elaborate on the threat to use force, though he acknowledged the virus now was in all of Iran's 31 provinces.

A firefighter disinfects a sidewalk against the new coronavirus as a man wearing a face mask walks by.Credit:AP

The threat may be to stop people from using the closed schools and universities as an excuse to go to the Caspian Sea and other Iranian vacation spots. Semi-official news agencies in Iran posted images of long lines of traffic of people trying to reach the Caspian coast from Tehran on Friday despite authorities earlier telling people to remain in their cities.

Iran on Thursday announced it would put checkpoints in place to limit travel between major cities, hoping to stem the spread of the virus.

Iran cancelled Friday prayers across its major cities. Elsewhere in the region, Iraq cancelled Friday prayers in Karbala, where a weekly sermon is delivered on behalf of the country's top Shiite cleric. Authorities in the United Arab Emirates meanwhile limited prayers to two verses of the Koran so they lasted no longer than 10 minutes, over concerns about the virus.

More than 4990 cases of the virus, which causes the illness COVID-19, have been confirmed across the Middle East. Iran and Italy have the world's highest death tolls outside of China.

In Tehran, firefighters sprayed disinfectant on an 18-kilometre length of Tehran's famous Valiasr Avenue, some from fire trucks and others walking along its sidewalks, spraying ATMs and storefronts.

"It would be great if they did it every day," grocery store owner Reza Razaienejad said after the firefighters sprayed outside his shop. "It should not be just a one-time thing and should be done frequently, especially in places like here where movement and traffic happens a lot."

But Iran offered some hope as well. Authorities reported a woman infected with the virus gave birth to a girl late Thursday night in Qom, the Shiite holy city particularly hard-hit by the virus.

Twelve new cases on Egypt cruise ship

Meanwhile, Egypt's health ministry said it registered 12 people carrying the coronavirus on a Nile cruise ship heading to the southern city of Luxor from Aswan, state television reported on Friday.

All 12 cases are asymptomatic, the health ministry and World Health Organization said in a joint statement on Friday. The individuals are all Egyptian workers on the ship, which is heading to the southern city of Luxor, the statement said.

The country had until now diagnosed three people with the virus, one of whom it said had fully recovered after receiving treatment.

AP, Reuters

Source: Read Full Article


Berlin Golden Bear Winner Mohammad Rasoulof Summoned to Serve Jail Sentence in Iran

Iranian film director Mohammad Rasoulof has been summoned to serve a prison sentence in Iran, two days after his film “There is no Evil” won the Berlin Film Festival’s Golden Bear, according to a report by London-based Iran International TV.

Rasoulof is one of his country’s most prominent directors, even though none of his films have screened in Iran where they are banned. In 2011, the year he won two prizes at Cannes with his censorship-themed “Goodbye,” Rasoulof was sentenced with fellow director Jafar Panahi to six years in prison and a 20-year ban on filmmaking for alleged anti-regime propaganda.

His sentence was later suspended and he was released on bail. In 2017 Iranian authorities confiscated Rasoulof’s passport upon his return from the Telluride Film Festival where his “A Man of Integrity,” about corruption and injustice in Iran had screened.

Prior to the Berlin Film Festival the director told Variety in an interview that while shooting the film he received a text message “that informed me that the appeal confirmed the sentence,” adding that he was “still waiting for another text to inform me [about] at what point this sentence is going to be executed.”

The dissident director’s lawyer Nasser Zarafshan told The Associated Press that Rasoulof will not turn himself into authorities and will file an appeal.

Popular on Variety

More to follow




Source: Read Full Article

World News

UK pulls staff out of embassy in Tehran as coronavirus kills 54 in Iran

Britain is pulling dependants and non-essential staff out of its embassy in Tehran amid a coronavirus outbreak that has killed at least 54 people in Iran.

In its updated travel advice for Iran, the Foreign Office said: "As of 1 March, dependants and some staff from the British Embassy are being withdrawn from Iran due to the ongoing coronavirus (COVID-19) outbreak.

"Essential staff needed to continue critical work will remain.

"In the event that the situation deteriorates further, the ability of the British Embassy to provide assistance to British nationals from within Iran may be limited."

Have you been affected by coronavirus? Email [email protected]

  • Boris Johnson says coronavirus likely to 'spread a bit more' in UK after 35 infected

  • Coronavirus: See if your area is affected after cases of deadly bug spread across UK

Iran's death toll from the new coronavirus has reached 54, Health Ministry spokesman Kianush Jahanpur told state TV, adding that the number of people infected had reached 978.

The husband of British-Iranian woman Nazanin Zaghari-Ratcliffe believes she has contracted coronavirus at the prison where she is being held.

Richard Ratcliffe said his wife has repeatedly asked to be tested for the virus at the Evin prison in Tehran after suffering from a "strange cold".

Although there are currently no confirmed cases at the prison, Covid-19 has spread rapidly across Iran and some observers believe the number of deaths is much higher than the official count from the government.

The Foreign Office has called on the Iranian government to "immediately allow" health professionals into the prison to assess British-Iranian dual nationals.

Iran has had the highest number of deaths from the coronavirus outside of China, where the outbreak originated, and several countries in the region have reported infections among people who travelled to the Islamic Republic.

"There were 385 new cases of infected people in the last 24 hours, increasing the total number to 978. The death toll is 54," Jahanpur said, calling on Iranians to avoid any unnecessary trips and stay at home.

On Saturday the death toll was put at 43, with 593 infected.

Some neighbouring countries have closed their borders with Iran and several countries have stopped flights.

Iran will put together approximately 300,000 teams, starting on Tuesday, to perform door-to-door coronavirus screening,

Health Minister Saeed Namaki said on state TV on Sunday. Iran's elite Revolutionary Guards have allocated facilities across the country to help to eradicate the virus, a Guards commander told a televised news conference on Sunday.

"We have set up centres across the country to help people to tackle the virus … we need national cooperation to tackle this crisis. People should follow our health officials' advice," said the commander, who was not named by Iran's Press TV.

The spread of the virus in Iran, the epicentre of the outbreak in the Middle East, has prompted growing anxiety among Iranians and concern in some quarters over the clerical establishment's response.

Twelve more people have tested positive for the flu-like virus in the UK, bringing its total to 35 confirmed cases.

Source: Read Full Article