Iran naval drills designed to send message to US: general

In this June 30, 2018 photo, released by an official website of the office of the Iranian supreme leader, Gen. Qassem Soleimani, center, who heads the elite Quds Force of Iran's Revolutionary Guard attends a graduation ceremony of a group of the guard's officers in Tehran, Iran. (AP)
Updated 09 August 2018

Iran naval drills designed to send message to US: general

  • The sanctions imposed on Tehran this week have already led banks and many companies around the world to scale back dealings with Iran
  • Trump responded by noting that Iran could face serious consequences if it threatened the United States

WASHINGTON: The general overseeing US military operations in the Middle East said Wednesday that an Iranian naval exercise around the Strait of Hormuz was meant to send a message to Washington before it reimposed sanctions on Tehran.
Iran launched the exercise in the Gulf last week, sending dozens of small attack boats out into the Strait of Hormuz — a vital, oil-shipping waterway that Iranian President Hassan Rouhani last month threatened to shut down.
“It’s pretty clear to us that they were trying to use that exercise to send a message to us that as we approach the period of the sanctions here that they had some capabilities,” US Central Command head General Joseph Votel told Pentagon reporters.
The capabilities include ocean mines, explosive boats, coastal defense missiles and radars, he said.
Votel said he saw Qassem Soleimani, who heads the external operations Quds Force for Iran’s Revolutionary Guards, as being responsible for the exercise.
“He is an individual who is perpetrating a lot of this destabilizing activity,” Votel said.
“Wherever you see Iranian activity, you see Qassem Soleimani.”
The United States on Tuesday reimposed sanctions on Iran, after President Donald Trump pulled out of the 2015 multilateral nuclear deal with Tehran.


Daesh claims deadly and rare twin blasts in Baghdad

Updated 22 January 2021

Daesh claims deadly and rare twin blasts in Baghdad

  • Militant group said the bombing ‘targeted apostate Shiites’

BAGHDAD: The Daesh has claimed responsibility for a rare and deadly twin suicide bombing that rocked central Baghdad killing over 30 and wounding dozens.
The group said the bombing “targeted apostate Shiites,” on a statement circulating in an Daesh-affiliated website late Thursday. The statement said the first bombing was carried out by Abu Youssef Al-Ansari and the second by Mohammed Arif Al-MuHajjir.

Iraqi Prime Minister said Yesterday's bombing is a security breach, and the country will not allow it to be repeated. He added that Baghdad is working on a comprehensive security plan to confront the challenges of extremism.
At least 32 people were killed and over 100 people wounded in the blasts on Thursday. Some were in severe condition. According to officials, the first suicide bomber cried out loudly that he was ill in the middle of the bustling market, prompting a crowd to gather around him — and that’s when he detonated his explosive belt. The second detonated shortly after.
The US-led coalition recently ceased combat activities and is gradually drawing down its troop presence in Iraq, sparking fears of an Daesh resurgence. The group has rarely been able to penetrate the capital since being dislodged by Iraqi forces and the US-led coalition in 2017.
The attack was the first in nearly three years to hit the capital. Elsewhere, in northern Iraq and the western desert, attacks continue and almost exclusively target Iraqi security forces.
An increase in attacks was seen last summer as militants took advantage of the government’s focus on tackling the coronavirus pandemic and exploited security gaps across disputed territory in northern Iraq.