Iran’s missile production has increased three-fold — Guards commander

Iranians walk past Sejjil (L) and Qadr-H medium range ballistic missiles displayed next to a portrait of Iranian Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei (AFP)
Updated 07 March 2018
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Iran’s missile production has increased three-fold — Guards commander

BEIRUT: Iran has increased its missile production three-fold, a senior Revolutionary Guards commander said Wednesday, according to the Fars news service.
The commander did not explain during what time period the production increase had taken place.
“In the past we had to do a lot of explaining to various bodies for our actions but it’s not like that anymore,” Brig. Gen. Amir Ali Hajjizadeh, the head of the Guards’ aerospace division said, according to Fars.
“Our production has increased three-fold compared to the past,” he said, referring to missiles.
The government, parliament and other Iranian officials had, in particular, agreed on the need for ground-to-ground missiles, Hajjizadeh said.
Fars gave no further details.
France’s foreign minister visited Iran on Monday on a delicate mission to reaffirm Europe’s support for a nuclear deal that opened Iran’s economy, while echoing US concern about its missile program and role in regional conflicts.
Jean-Yves Le Drian’s visit reflected French efforts to safeguard Iran’s 2015 accord with major powers.
US President Donald Trump has threatened to pull out of the deal unless three European signatories help “fix” it by forcing Iran to limit its sway in the Middle East and rein in its missile program.
Senior Iranian officials told Le Drian on Monday that Iran’s ballistic missile program was not up for negotiation.


Trump declares Daesh defeated in Syria as US weighs complete withdrawal

Updated 41 min 7 sec ago
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Trump declares Daesh defeated in Syria as US weighs complete withdrawal

WASHINGTON: The United States has defeated Daesh in Syria, Donald Trump claimed on Wednesday, adding that it was the only reason he had kept troops in the country.

His comments came after US officials told Reuters on Wednesday that the US is considering a total withdrawal of US forces from Syria as it nears the end of its campaign to retake all of the territory once held by Daesh. 

Such a decision, if confirmed, would upend assumptions about a longer-term US military presence in Syria, which Defense Secretary Jim Mattis and other senior US officials had advocated to help ensure Daesh cannot reemerge.

"We have defeated ISIS in Syria, my only reason for being there during the Trump Presidency," Trump wrote on Twitter.

The US president has previously expressed a strong desire to bring troops home from Syria when possible.
The timing of the withdrawal was not immediately clear and US officials did not disclose details about the deliberations, including who was involved. It was unclear how soon a decision could be announced.
The Pentagon declined to comment.
The United States still has about 2,000 troops in Syria, many of them special operations forces working closely with an alliance of Kurdish and Arab militias known as the Syrian Democratic Forces, or SDF.
The partnership with the SDF over the past several years has contributed to the defeat of Daesh in Syria but outraged NATO ally Turkey, which views Kurdish YPG forces in the alliance as an extension of a militant group fighting inside Turkey.
The deliberations on US troops come as Ankara threatens a new offensive in Syria. To date, US forces in Syria have been seen as a stabilizing factor in the country and have somewhat restrained Turkey’s actions against the SDF.
A complete withdrawal of US troops from Syria would still leave a sizeable US military presence in the region, including about 5,200 troops across the border in Iraq.
Much of the US campaign in Syria has been waged by warplanes flying out of bases and ships in the Middle East.
Still, Mattis and US State Department officials have long fretted about leaving Syria before a peace agreement can be reached to end that country’s brutal civil war, which has killed hundreds of thousands of people and displaced around half of Syria’s pre-war population of about 22 million.
In April, Mattis said: “We do not want to simply pull out before the diplomats have won the peace. You win the fight — and then you win the peace.”
Daesh is also widely expected to revert to guerilla tactics once it no longer holds territory.
A US withdrawal could open Trump up to criticism if Daesh reemerged.
Trump has previously lambasted his predecessor, Barack Obama, for the withdrawal of US forces from Iraq that preceded an unraveling of the Iraqi armed forces. Iraqi forces collapsed in the face of Daesh's’s advance into the country in 2014.