Iran says hundreds of protesters released from detention

Iranian officials said hundreds of people detained in recent weeks during anti-government protests have been released and acknowledged that at least 25 people were killed during the unrest. (AP)
Updated 14 January 2018
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Iran says hundreds of protesters released from detention

TEHRAN: Iranian officials said Sunday that hundreds of people detained in recent weeks during anti-government protests have been released and acknowledged that at least 25 people were killed during the unrest.
The demonstrations that erupted in a number of towns and cities were the largest seen in Iran since the disputed 2009 presidential election, but authorities say the unrest has waned in recent days, and the security forces insist they have restored order.
Tehran prosecutor Abbas Jafari Dolatabadi said 440 “arrested rioters” have been released in Tehran alone. The semi-official Fars news agency quoted judiciary spokesman Gholamhosein Mohseni Ejehi as saying that just 55 people remain in detention in the capital in connection with the protests.
It was not clear how many Iranians are still detained elsewhere, and the largest and most violent of the demonstrations were held in the provinces. Last week, an Iranian reformist lawmaker, Mahmoud Sadeghi, said some 3,700 people were arrested across the country.
The protests, which began three weeks ago, were initially sparked by anger at the weak economy and official corruption, but escalated rapidly, with some protesters calling for the overthrow of the government and clashing with security forces.
Ejehi, the judiciary spokesman, said Sunday that at least 25 people were killed in the clashes, while insisting that none died at the hands of security forces. Officials had previously said 21 people were killed.
Iranian officials have acknowledged the widespread anger over the economy, which remains weak despite the lifting of international sanctions under the 2015 nuclear agreement with world powers. But they have portrayed the violence as part of a conspiracy by the United States, Israel and other countries to try to overthrow the clerically-overseen government.
The United States and Israel have expressed support for the protests but deny any involvement in them.


Turkey to expand cross-border military operations

Turkish President Erdogan has vowed to expand operations in northern Syria. (AFP)
Updated 3 min 45 sec ago
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Turkey to expand cross-border military operations

  • We will not surrender to those who present themselves as a strategic partner
  • Beijing first commented on the issue on Friday in a Foreign Ministry statement in which it offered moral support to Turkey

SHANGHAI: President Recep Tayyip Erdogan has told his ruling Justice and Development Party’s (AKP) congress that Turkey would press on with and expand its cross-border military operations.
Turkey sent troops into northern Syria two years ago to fight against the Kurdish People’s Protection Units (YPG).
The YPG forms the backbone of the Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF), the Kurdish-Arab alliance that has received extensive backing from the US-led coalition in the battle against Daesh.
But Turkey accuses the YPG of being the Syrian branch of the Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK), a group blacklisted by Ankara and its Western allies.
The Turkish army has also increased its strikes against PKK rear bases in the north of Iraq in the past few months.
Erdogan also declared on Saturday that his country would not be cowed by the US.
The two countries are at odds over Turkey’s detention of an American pastor, which has triggered a trade row and sent the local currency the lira into a tailspin.

Strategic target
“We will not surrender to those who present themselves as a strategic partner while at the same time trying to make us a strategic target,” Erdogan said at the congress.
“Some people threaten us with economy, sanctions, foreign currency exchange rates, interest rates and inflation. We know your shenanigans and we will defy you.”
Last week, US President Donald Trump said he had doubled the tariffs on aluminum and steel tariffs from Turkey, prompting Ankara to sharply hike tariffs on several US products.
And Turkey on Friday threatened to respond in kind if Washington imposed further sanctions, while a court rejected another appeal to free pastor Andrew Brunson, who has been held for almost two years on terror charges.
The lira has nosedived against the dollar, dropping as much as 20 percent on one day last week. It sunk to a low of well over seven to the dollar earlier this week but was trading at just over six to the dollar on Friday — a loss of 40 percent since the start of the year.
The collapse of the currency has been blamed both on the tensions with the US and Erdogan’s increasing hold on Turkey’s economy and his refusal to allow the central bank to raise interest rates.
On Saturday, China’s top diplomat, State Councillor Wang Yi, told Turkey’s foreign minister that Beijing supports the Turkish government’s efforts to safeguard security and economic stability and believes that it will overcome its “temporary difficulties.”
China’s Foreign Ministry said in a statement that Wang had made the comments in a phone call with the Turkish Minister, Mevlut Cavusoglu.
The Turkish lira has lost a third of its value against the dollar this year as worsening relations between Turkey and the US added to losses driven by concerns over President Recep Tayyip Erdogan’s influence on monetary policy.
Cavusoglu spoke about the current situation in Turkey during the phone call and said his government was willing to strengthen strategic communication with China, the statement said.
Beijing first commented on the issue on Friday in a Foreign Ministry statement in which it offered moral support to Turkey.