Syria says Iranian withdrawal not up for discussion: report

Syria says Iranian withdrawal not up for discussion: reportThe withdrawal of Iranian forces is not up for discussion, the Syrian deputy foreign minister was quoted as saying on Wednesday, after Washington demanded they pull out of Syria’s conflict. U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo has demanded Iran make sweeping changes — from dropping its nuclear program to leaving the Syrian war — or face severe economic sanctions. “Whether Iranian forces or Hezbollah withdraw or stay in Syria is not up for discussion because it’s the (business) of the Syrian government,” Lebanon’s al-Mayadeen TV cited Syrian Deputy Foreign Minister Faisal Mekdad as saying.


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Mike Pompeo threatens 'strongest sanctions in history' and vows to 'crush' Iranian proxies

Mike Pompeo threatens 'strongest sanctions in history' and vows to 'crush' Iranian proxiesMike Pompeo, the US secretary of state, threatened Iran with the “strongest sanctions in history” and vowed to “crush” the regime’s proxies around the world. Mr Pompeo also called for a new nuclear treaty with Iran to replace the Obama-era deal that Donald Trump withdrew from earlier this month. But the top US diplomat issued a list of  12 requirements for such a deal, many of which Iran would be unlikely to agree to. He said the US would apply “unprecedented financial pressure” on Iran and send teams of specialists to allies around the world to explain US policy. Mr Pompeo said if Iran makes “major changes” the US was willing to lift all sanctions. Delivering his first major foreign policy speech since taking the job, Mr Pompeo doubled down on the United States’ decision to quit the agreement earlier this month.  He framed the 2015 deal as allowing Iran to increase its malign influence across the Middle East on the back of funding from renewed trade with the West. Mr Pompeo accused the Iranian regime of “playing with house money that has become blood money”. And he told the regime: “Understand your current activities will be met with steely resolve”. He added: “The Obama administration made a bet.  That bet was a loser with massive repercussions. “The bet was a bad one for the US, for Europe, and for the world. Iran’s leaders saw it as a starting gun for the march across the Middle East.” He added: “We will track down Iranian operatives and their proxies around the world and we will crush them.” Mr Pompeo called for a new treaty with Iran, ratified by Congress, that ends enrichment and gives inspectors access . He said Iran must “stop enrichment” of uranium and never preprocess plutonium. Iran must also allow nuclear “unqualified access to all sites throughout the country.” Mr Pompeo says Iran must also release all US citizens, end support for Houthi rebels in Yemen, withdraw all forces from Syria and stop threatening Israel. He urged other nations to join America in reimposing economic sanctions on the regime in a bid to bring it back to the negotiating table.  The speech comes with America at loggerheads with its closest allies after Donald Trump finally made good his threat to pull the US out of the Iran nuclear deal.  The agreement, struck by his predecessor Barack Obama, agreed to waive economic sanctions in turn for Iran giving up much of its nuclear programme.  Other signatories of the deal – Britain, France, Germany, the European Union, China, Russia and Iran – have said they will try to keep the agreement alive.  However its future remains in the balance, with Iran saying it will only keep to the agreement if the economic benefits gained from the agreement remain in placed.  American allies have been clamouring for the Trump administration to explain its ‘Plan B’ approach to Iran after unilaterally quitting the deal.  Mr Trump, the US President, and his officials have called for a wider deal that addresses Iran’s ballistic missile programme and regional adventurism as well as its nuclear ambitions.  However it remains unclear how they hope to strike the new deal, given it would need Iran to come back to the negotiating table.  Speaking in Washington on Monday, Mr Pompeo is expected to repeat Mr Trump’s view that ramping up the economic pressure on the regime will convince it to enter new talks.  A senior State Department official outlined the message in a comment to the US political website Axios.  “We are welcoming ALL nations to join us in pushing back against Iran — our sanctions regime and our broader efforts welcome the participation of all countries,” the official was quoted as saying.  “Certainly includes our allies in the Arab world, our European and Asian allies. Iran’s threats extend globally, the response to their malign behavior should match that.” Another source with knowledge of the speech was quoted saying Mr Pompeo would warn Iran “advanced its march across the Middle East” with “wealth created by the West” thanks to the nuclear agreement.  Much of the effectiveness of the Trump administration’s reimposition of sanctions depends on European businesses cutting economic ties with Iran.  Firms in the EU have taken much more advantage of the 2015 waiving of sanctions to sign contracts increasing business in Iran than those in America.  The EU exported over €10.8 billion (£9.4 billion) worth of goods to Iran in 2017, half of which was made up by machinery and transport. That is up from €6.5 billion (£5.7 billion) in 2015.  Senior Trump administration officials have threatened to impose ‘secondary sanctions’ on European businesses if they refuse to cancel their contracts. In return the EU has moved to reimpose a “blocking statue” originally meant to circumvent a the US embargo against Cuba in the 1990s that would protect European businesses. 


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Without Nuclear Deal, US Expects Resurgence in Iranian Cyberattacks

  1. Without Nuclear Deal, US Expects Resurgence in Iranian Cyberattacks  New York Times
  2. Europe moves to safeguard interests in Iran after US pullout  Reuters
  3. Iran Prepares to Restart Nuclear Program, Blasts Israel and US Over Attacks in Syria  Newsweek
  4. America must respond to Iran’s attack on Israel to prevent a regional war  Fox News
  5. Full coverage


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Video shows Israeli missile blowing up Iranian rocket launcher in Syria

Video shows Israeli missile blowing up Iranian rocket launcher in SyriaIsrael has released video of the moment one of its missiles destroyed what they called an Iranian rocket launcher in Syria after accusing Tehran’s forces of attacking the Golan Heights earlier. Benjamin Netanyahu, the Israeli Prime Minister, said Iran had “crossed a red line” and that the resulting bombardment against targets in Syria “was a consequence”. Israeli Defence Minister Avigdor Lieberman warned: “If we get rain, they’ll get a flood.” The Israel Defence Forces released the video, which showed soldiers standing near “an SA22 aerial interception system” shortly before the missile blew it up.  The launcher is short to medium range surface-to-air missile and anti-aircraft artillery weapons system.   The bombardment led to calls for calm from Russia, France, Germany and Britain and the European Union, while the United States put the blame squarely on Iran and stressed Israel’s right to “self-defence”. An image grab from a video released on May 10, 2018 by the “Central War Media” and broadcast on Syria’s official TV purportedly shows Syrian air defence systems intercepting Israeli missiles Credit: AFP Germany and Britain joined the United States in denouncing the rocket fire towards the Israel-occupied Golan Heights they also said was carried out by Iran, while France reiterated its “unwavering support for Israel’s security”. Iran’s President Hassan Rouhani told German Chancellor Angela Merkel in a telephone call that he did not want “new tensions” in the Middle East. Rouhani did not mention of Israel’s strikes in Syria, or those against the Israeli-occupied Golan Heights. But the chairman of his country’s parliamentary committee on foreign affairs, Allaeddine Boroujerdi, condemned the strikes, warning that “Israel has entered a dangerous game”. Missile fire is seen from Damascus, Credit: Reuters The Israeli raids in Syria, which a monitor said killed 23 fighters, were one of the largest Israeli military operations in recent years and the biggest such assault on Iranian targets, the Israeli military said. “We hit nearly all the Iranian infrastructure in Syria,” Mr Lieberman said. “I hope we’ve finished this episode and everyone understood.”


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EU calls Iranian strikes against Israel 'extremely worrying'

EU calls Iranian strikes against Israel 'extremely worrying'The European Union called reports about Iranian strikes against Israeli army posts from inside Syria “extremely worrying” and said Israel had the right to defend itself. It also called on all regional actors to show restraint and avoid any escalation. “Reports about last night’s Iranian attacks against Israeli army posts from inside Syria, to which Israel responded by striking against Iranian targets in Syria, are extremely worrying,” said a spokeswoman for the bloc’s foreign policy chief, Federica Mogherini.


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Israeli airstrikes target Iranian military installations in Syria

Israeli airstrikes target Iranian military installations in SyriaThe Israeli military on Thursday said it attacked nearly all of Iran’s military installations in neighboring Syria in response to an Iranian rocket barrage on Israeli positions in the occupied Golan Heights, in the most serious military confrontation between the two bitter enemies to date. Israel said the targets of the strikes, its largest in Syria since the 1973 war, included weapons storage, logistics sites and intelligence centers used by elite Iranian forces in Syria.


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Israeli Warplanes Hit Dozens of Iranian Targets in Syria

  1. Israeli Warplanes Hit Dozens of Iranian Targets in Syria  New York Times
  2. Israel Says It Has Struck “Dozens” Of Iranian Military Targets In Syria  BuzzFeed News
  3. Israel Launches Major Airstrikes Against Iranian Forces In Syria  NPR
  4. Trump’s rejection of Iran nuclear deal may be Israel’s dream moment  The Guardian
  5. The Latest: Bahrain: Israel has ‘right’ to respond to Iran  Washington Post
  6. Full coverage


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Israel launches massive military strike against Iranian targets in Syria

  1. Israel launches massive military strike against Iranian targets in Syria  Washington Post
  2. Israel strikes Iranian targets in Syria after rockets hit Golan Heights  BBC News
  3. Israel Strikes Iranian Targets in Syria as Tensions Escalate  New York Times
  4. Trump the Oath Breaker: Low-Intensity War With Iran is About to Escalate  Al-Bawaba
  5. Israel Strikes Iranian Targets in Syria as Regional Tensions Mount  Wall Street Journal
  6. Full coverage


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