Iran arrests MI6 spy

Updated 07 December 2014
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Iran arrests MI6 spy

DUBAI: Iranian intelligence authorities have arrested a man on charges of spying for Britain’s MI6, the semi-official Fars news agency reported on Saturday.
The head of the Kerman region’s revolutionary court, Dadkhoda Salari, told the agency the suspect made contact with British agents 11 times in recent months, inside and outside the country.
According to Salari, the suspect has admitted his guilt and he is currently on trial.
A spokeswoman for the Foreign Office in London said: “We don’t comment on intelligence matters.”
The report, which Reuters could not verify, comes at a time when London and Tehran have been taking steps toward restoring diplomatic relations that were broken off after activists stormed the British embassy in Tehran in November 2011.
London announced the appointment of Ajay Sharma as non-resident charge d’affaires in Iran in November, and Sharma made his first visit to Iran in that role this month.
In November, six world powers made a breakthrough deal for Tehran to curb its nuclear program in return for limited sanctions easing.
Iran pulled out of expert-level talks with six world powers Friday to protest the expansion of US sanctions, saying the blacklisting of more entities violates the spirit of a groundbreaking agreement over Tehran’s atomic program.
In the first major hurdle to the interim deal reached last month in Geneva, the United States targeted more than a dozen companies and people on Thursday for evading sanctions against Iran.
It was an effort by the Obama administration to show it will enforce existing law even as it presses Congress to hold off on additional measures while world powers pursue a comprehensive nuclear deal with Tehran.
But the Iranians called the move “unconstructive and against good intentions,” and accused the US of sending mixed signals.
“This is a game of double standards,” an Irani official said.


Coalition hits back over reported civilian deaths in east Syria

Updated 18 November 2018
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Coalition hits back over reported civilian deaths in east Syria

  • 43 people were killed in the strikes launched by the coalition
  • The US-led coalition has consistently denied reports by the Observatory in recent days

BEIRUT: The US-led anti-militant coalition hit back Sunday at reports its air strikes on a Daesh group holdout in eastern Syria had killed civilians, appearing to blame their deaths on regime forces.
More than seven years into the country’s civil war, multiple offensives have whittled down the swathes of Syrian territory Daesh once controlled to a small pocket in the eastern province of Deir Ezzor on the Iraqi border.
A Kurdish-led alliance backed by the coalition is battling to expel Daesh from that holdout, on the eastern bank of the Euphrates.
Russian-backed regime forces have been fighting the militants west of the river.
The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said coalition strikes on Saturday killed 43 people, including 36 family members of Daesh fighters in the village of Abu Al-Husn.
But the coalition denied that its air raids there had killed any non-combatants.
The US envoy for the coalition, Brett McGurk on Sunday appeared to blame regime forces stationed “across the river” for the civilian casualties.
“Reports of civilian casualties attributed to coalition strikes are false. All other forces should cease uncoordinated fires from across the river immediately,” he said on Twitter.
In a statement late Saturday, the coalition reported 19 coalition strikes on Daesh targets “free of civilian presence” between late Friday and Saturday afternoon in the militant enclave, which includes the town of Hajjin.
The coalition’s “initial assessment following the strikes is that there was no evidence of civilians near the strikes,” it said.
But the coalition “detected a total of ten additional strikes in the same area of Hajjin that did not originate from the coalition or partner forces,” it added.
It called “on all other actors to cease uncoordinated fires across the Euphrates.”
The Observatory, a Britain-based war monitor, said regime forces and Daesh fighters exchanged fire across the river on Saturday, but pro-government shelling did not hit Abu Al-Husn.
The US-led international coalition has consistently denied reports by the Observatory in recent days that its air raids have killed civilians.
It says it takes allegations of civilian casualties seriously and investigates each one thoroughly.
Daesh overran large swathes of Syria and neighboring Iraq in 2014, proclaiming a “caliphate” in land it controlled.
But the militant group has since lost most of it to offensives by multiple forces in both countries.
On Saturday, Syrian regime forces retook control of the group’s last holdout in the country’s south as the militants retreated into the desert after months of fighting, the Observatory said.
Syria’s war has killed more than 360,000 people since it erupted in 2011 with the brutal repression of anti-government protests.
Since 2014, the US-led coalition has acknowledged direct responsibility for over 1,100 civilian deaths in Syria and Iraq, but rights groups put the number much higher.