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.


Syrian children study on the ground in abandoned villa

Displaced Syrian children attend class at a makeshift school in the village of Muhandiseen, in the south western countryside of the Aleppo province, on September 24, 2018. (AFP)
Updated 25 September 2018
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Syrian children study on the ground in abandoned villa

  • Some sit with their knees drawn on a plastic woven carpet, their shoes neatly by its side

ALEPPO, Syria: In rebel-held northern Syria, displaced children sit or lie on the ground of an unfinished villa, bending over their notebooks to apply themselves as they write the day’s lesson.
Four teachers instruct around 100 children — girls and boys aged six to 12 — at the makeshift school in an opposition-held area in the west of the northern province of Aleppo.
Between the bare walls of the villa abandoned mid-construction, children sit or lie on sheets or plain carpets, their small backpacks cast by their side.
Dubbed “Buds of Hope,” the teaching facility has no desks, library or even working toilets.
Instead, the air wafts in from beyond the pine trees outside through the gaping windows in the cement wall.
Dressed in a bright blue T-shirt and jeans, her hair neatly tied back in a pony tail, a barefoot girl kneels over her book, carefully writing.
“This isn’t a school,” says 11-year-old Ali Abdel Jawad.
“There aren’t any classrooms, no seats, nothing. We’re sitting on the ground,” he says.
In one classroom, a gaggle of veiled young girls sit on a bench, as the teacher explains the lesson to one of their male counterparts near a rare white board.
In another, the school’s only female teacher perches on a plastic chair, as her students gather around on the floor, their backs against the wall.

Some sit with their knees drawn on a plastic woven carpet, their shoes neatly by its side.
The children — as well as their teachers — have been displaced from their homes in other parts of Syria due to the seven-year war, a teacher told an AFP photographer.
Some hail from Eastern Ghouta outside Damascus, a former rebel stronghold that fell back under regime control in April after a blistering offensive and surrender deals.
Others come from the central provinces of Hama or Homs.
A dry fountain lies in the courtyard outside the villa’s elegant facade, where girls link arms and swing around in a circle.
Schools in opposition-held areas are generally funded by aid organizations, but have in the past been hit by bombardment.
“We’re always scared of bombardment and of the situation in general,” says one of the teachers, giving his name as Mohammed.
The building lies in rebel-held territory adjacent to regime-controlled parts of Aleppo city to the east, but also the major opposition stronghold of Idlib to the west.
Some three million people live in the Idlib province and adjacent areas of the neighboring Aleppo and Latakia provinces, around half of them displaced by war in other parts of Syria.
Earlier this month, many feared a regime assault on Idlib, but last week Damascus ally Moscow and rebel backer Ankara announced a deal to temporarily halt it.