Homes burned at Darfur attack site

Updated 09 November 2012
0

Homes burned at Darfur attack site

KHARTOUM: Peacekeepers said they had discovered homes burned and dead animals and ammunition littering the ground in a Darfur village allegedly attacked by pro-government forces last week.
Their report gave a rare close-up description of the conflict in the remote region, where rebels demanding greater political and economic sway for their ethnic minorities took up arms in 2003.
Events in Darfur are often hard to verify because journalists’ access is restricted.
An African Union-United Nations Mission in Darfur (UNAMID) team that went to Sigili on Tuesday found the village “completely deserted, with apparent signs of an abrupt departure,” the peacekeepers said in a statement late on Wednesday.
“It also noticed several signs of destruction of housing and property, killed animals, and burnt houses. Ammunition was also found in different sites across the village.”
Last week, UNAMID said government forces had blocked an earlier attempt to access the site, which is about 40 km southeast of North Darfur’s capital El Fasher.
While violence in Darfur is down from its peak in 2003 and 2004, banditry, tribal fighting and clashes between rebels and government forces have continued to plague the region.
On Wednesday, Human Rights Watch said 13 civilians including two infants were killed in Sigili on Nov. 2, when scores of armed men in vehicles and on camels attacked the village, firing on civilians and looting and burning shops and homes. It said witnesses identified the attackers as ethnic Berti members of the Popular Defense Forces, a militia the government has deployed alongside the army, but added it could not confirm this.
State media has reported 10 people died in the area in what it called a tribal dispute.
UNAMID said it had also tried to go to the Abu Delek area southeast of El Fasher, but was stopped by members of the Popular Defense Forces.


Iran faces ‘strongest sanctions in history’

US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo (AP Photo/Alex Brandon)
Updated 22 May 2018
0

Iran faces ‘strongest sanctions in history’

  • US Secretary of State laid out Trump administration’s strategy for constraining Iran’s nuclear program
  • US threatens "strongest sanctions in history" if Iranian government does not change course

WASHINGTON: The US told Iran on Monday to drop its nuclear ambitions and pull out of the Syrian civil war in a list of demands that marked a new hard-line against Tehran and prompted an Iranian official to warn that Washington seeks regime change.

Weeks after US President Donald Trump pulled out of an international nuclear deal with Iran, his administration threatened to impose “the strongest sanctions in history,” setting Washington and Tehran on a deeper course of confrontation.

US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo demanded sweeping changes that would force Iran effectively to reverse years of its foreign policies.

“The sting of sanctions will only grow more painful if the regime does not change course from the unacceptable and unproductive path it has chosen for itself and the people of Iran,” Pompeo said in his first major speech since becoming secretary of state.

“These will be the strongest sanctions in history by the time we are done,” he added.

Pompeo took aim at Iran’s policy of expanding its influence in the Middle East through support for proxy armed groups in countries such as Syria, Lebanon and Yemen.

He warned that the US would “crush” Iranian operatives and allies abroad and told Tehran to pull out forces under its command from the Syrian civil war where they back President Bashar Assad.

Iran is unlikely to accede to the US demands. Tension between the two countries has grown notably since Trump this month withdrew from the 2015 nuclear agreement aimed at preventing Tehran from obtaining a nuclear weapon.

Pompeo warned that if Iran fully resumed its nuclear program Washington would be ready to respond and said the administration would hold companies doing prohibited business in Iran to account.

“Our demands on Iran are not unreasonable: Give up your program,” Pompeo said, “Should they choose to go back, should they begin to enrich, we are fully prepared to respond to that as well,” he said, declining to elaborate.

Pompeo said if Iran made major changes, the US was prepared to ease sanctions, re-establish full diplomatic and commercial relations and support the country’s re-integration into the international economic system.

The speech did not explicitly call for regime change but Pompeo repeatedly urged the Iranian people not to put up with their leaders, specifically naming President Hassan Rouhani and Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif.

“At the end of the day the Iranian people will get to make a choice about their leadership. If they make the decision quickly, that would be wonderful, if they choose not to do so we will stay hard at this until we achieve the outcomes I set forward,” said Pompeo.