US warns Iran it will respond to attacks by Tehran allies in Iraq

Iraqis demonstrate in Tahrir Square in central Baghdad. 3 mortar shells hit late the green zone, which houses the US Embassy. (AFP)
Updated 12 September 2018
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US warns Iran it will respond to attacks by Tehran allies in Iraq

  • The US will hold the regime in Tehran accountable if Americans injured in Iraq
  • Iran did not act to stop these attacks by its proxies in Iraq, the US said.

WASHINGTON: The US warned Iran on Tuesday it will “respond swiftly and decisively” to any attacks by Tehran’s allies in Iraq that result in injury to Americans or damage to US facilities.
The statement by the White House press secretary accused Iran of not preventing attacks in recent days on the US Consulate in Basra and the American Embassy compound in Baghdad.
“Iran did not act to stop these attacks by its proxies in Iraq, which it has supported with funding, training, and weapons,” the statement said.
“The United States will hold the regime in Tehran accountable for any attack that results in injury to our personnel or damage to United States Government facilities. America will respond swiftly and decisively in defense of American lives,” the statement said.
On Friday, three mortar bombs landed inside Baghdad’s heavily fortified Green Zone, where the US Embassy is located, but they caused no casualties or damage, the Iraqi military said.
The mortar attack was the first such one in several years on the Green Zone, which houses parliament, government buildings and many foreign embassies.
The US Consulate in Basra is near the airport, which was attacked by rockets on Saturday. No damage or casualties were reported.
Protesters in Basra angry over political corruption ransacked and torched Iraqi government buildings last week. The Iranian consulate was set alight by demonstrators shouting condemnation of what many see as Iran’s sway over Iraq’s affairs.


Amnesty decries Houthi prosecution of Bahais in Yemen

Updated 14 min 43 sec ago
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Amnesty decries Houthi prosecution of Bahais in Yemen

CAIRO: An international rights group on Tuesday decried the prosecution of 24 Yemeni Bahais, including women and a teenager, by a Houthi rebel court on espionage charges.
Lynn Maalouf, Amnesty International’s Middle East director of research, said the group fears the Bahais could receive the death penalty amid “flagrantly unfair proceedings.”
The trial opened on Saturday and has been adjourned until Sept. 29. A lawyer following the case said the process was swift and most of the defendants were tried in absentia because only five were in custody. He spoke on condition of anonymity because of fear of retribution.
Iran banned the Baha’i religion, which was founded in 1844 by a Persian nobleman.
The Iranian-backed Houthis have occupied northern Yemen since 2014, after which the legitimate government fled the country and sought military intervention by a Saudi Arabian-led coalition. Houthis have waged an all-out campaign against all political and religious opponents and held thousands in detention, where torture is rampant.
The Houthi group’s leader has targeted Bahais in public speeches describing them as “satanic” and several Bahais have been detained, tortured and held incommunicado, according to the community’s UN representative.
A top figure was sentenced to death over charges of collaboration with Israel. In 2016, over 60 women, men and children participating in an educational gathering organized by Bahais were arrested as part of a mass crackdown on the religious community.
Bani Dugal, principal representative of the Baha’i International Community to the United Nations, expressed concern in a statement and said the charges were “extremely alarming and mark a severe intensification of pressure.”
He also said that the Houthi targeting of Bahais is “eerily reminiscent of the persecution of Baha’is in Iran in the 1980s during which leaders of the Baha’i community were rounded up and killed.”