EU backs off from new sanctions against Iran — for now

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European Union foreign policy chief Federica Mogherini speaks with the media as she arrives for a meeting of EU foreign ministers at the EU Council building in Luxembourg on April 16, 2018. (AP Photo/Virginia Mayo)
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France's Foreign Minister Jean-Yves Le Drian (C), UK's Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson (R), EU foreign policy chief Federica Mogherini (L) and Germany's Foreign Minister Heiko Maas attend an EU foreign affairs council in Luxembourg on April 16, 2018. (AFP / Emmanuel Dunand)
Updated 17 April 2018
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EU backs off from new sanctions against Iran — for now

  • Irish FM stressed need to send a strong signal to Iran about its activities
  • Targets for new sanctions could include both Iranians and non-Iranian militias in Syria

JEDDAH: EU foreign ministers met on Monday for talks on how they could persuade the US not to pull out of the Iran nuclear deal, but stopped short of imposing new sanctions on Tehran.
Britain, France and Germany used a meeting of the EU’s 28 foreign ministers to try to build support for expanding sanctions against Iran to punish it for its regional expansionism and its role in the conflict in Syria.
They hope that by doing so they will persuade US President Donald Trump not to follow through on his threat to abandon the 2015 deal to curb Iran’s nuclear ambitions.
Danish Foreign Minister Anders Samuelson said there was “a very broad majority” in favor of expanding sanctions, as the clock ticks down to a May 12 deadline imposed by Trump to “fix” the agreement.
Simon Coveney, the Irish foreign minister, said there was a need to “send a strong signal to Iran that we’re concerned in relation to some of their activity, particularly in Syria.
“But also to send a message to Washington that we share their concerns in some of those areas,” Coveney said after the talks in Luxembourg.
Targets for new sanctions could include both Iranians and non-Iranian militias in Syria. But any decision would have to have unanimous support, and countries such as Italy and Sweden are not convinced.
“There is no consensus at the moment,” EU diplomatic chief Federica Mogherini said.
“I don’t exclude that this will happen in the future but it’s not the case today.”


US-backed Syria offensive kills 35 Daesh fighters: monitor

Updated 20 October 2018
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US-backed Syria offensive kills 35 Daesh fighters: monitor

BEIRUT: An offensive by US-backed forces against Daesh’s last redoubt in eastern Syria killed 35 militants on Saturday, a Britain-based war monitor said.
Twenty-eight Daesh members were killed in air strikes by the US-led coalition around the town of Hajjin, the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said.
Another seven militants were killed in ground fighting with the Syrian Democratic Forces, who launched a coalition-backed offensive against the Daesh-held pocket in the Euphrates Valley last month.
Fighting has killed 414 militants and 227 SDF fighters in total since the assault began on September 10, the Observatory said.
Coalition air strikes on Daesh targets in another part of the pocket on Thursday and Friday killed at least 41 civilians, 10 of them children, the monitor said.
Daesh overran large swathes of Syria and neighboring Iraq in 2014, proclaiming a “caliphate” across the land it controlled.
But the militant group has since lost most of its territory to various offensives in both countries.
In Syria, its presence has been reduced to parts of the vast Badia desert and the Hajjin pocket in the eastern province of Deir Ezzor near the Iraqi border.
Syria’s war has killed more than 360,000 people since it erupted in 2011 with the brutal repression of anti-government protests.