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Deadly car bombing rocks Iraq’s Baghdad

Attack in area full of used car dealers is the latest in renewed wave of mostly suicide blasts to strike Iraqi capital.

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A car packed with explosives has blown up in the south of Baghdad, killing at least 55 people and wounding dozens more.

The Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) group claimed responsibility for Thursday’s attack, which came amid a renewed wave of violence in the Iraqi capital.

Baghdad was rocked by a wave of deadly suicide bombings during the first days of 2017, but relatively few explosions had been reported since.

Security sources said the vehicle that blew up was parked in a crowded street full of garages and used car dealers, in Bayaa neighbourhood in the southwest of the city.

Iraqi officials said the bomb targeted car dealerships in the mostly Shia neighbourhood.

The site of the bombing was an open space used as a second-hand car market where hundreds of private sellers park their vehicles and wait all day to discuss prices with prospective buyers.

‘Terrorist car bomb’

The Amaq propaganda agency linked to ISIL, which has claimed nearly all such attacks recently, reported the blast and described it as targeting “a gathering of Shias”.

“A terrorist car bomb attack struck near car dealerships in Bayaa,” a spokesperson for the Baghdad Operations Command said in a statement.

An interior ministry official gave a death toll of 52 and said that more than 50 other people were also wounded. Hospital officials confirmed the figures.

Security officials could be seen inspecting the site before the sun set, while some distressed civilians searched for relatives and others took pictures with their mobile phones of the large crater caused by the blast.

Another four attacks in and around Baghdad on Thursday killed eight people and wounded about 30, police and medical officials said.

“We condemn in the strongest possible terms the horrible terrorist attacks carried out by ISIS targeting a car dealership in Baghdad,” the US state separtment said.

Jan Kubis, the UN’s top envoy in Iraq, said: “Yet again, the terrorists are continuing with their carnage against innocent civilians. This is totally unacceptable.”

The latest bombings were also condemned by France, one of the main partners of the US in a coalition assisting Iraq in its battle against ISIL, whose fighters also control parts of neighbouring Syria.

ISIL is currently defending the west bank of the northern city of Mosul, its last major urban stronghold in Iraq, against a huge offensive by the security forces.

Four months into the broad military operation, Iraq’s largest in years, elite forces have retaken the eastern side of the city and are preparing for an assault on the part of Mosul that lies west of the Tigris River.

ISIL fighters have carried out diversionary attacks, such as raids in other towns and cities as well as bombings in Baghdad and elsewhere, in an apparent bid to stretch federal security forces and capture headlines.

On Wednesday, a suicide bomber detonated a pick-up truck in Baghdad’s Sadr City suburb, killing at least 15 and wounding 50 more.

And on Tuesday, a car-bomb explosion in southern Baghdad killed at least four people.

 

Source: Al Jazeera and Reuters news agency

Middle East

Rouhani warns Trump against walking away from n-deal

I am telling those in the White House that if they do not live up to their commitments, the Iranian government will react firmly.

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trump-rouhani

Tehran, April 24 : Iranian President Hassan Rouhani on Tuesday warned his US counterpart Donald Trump that abandoning a nuclear deal that the Tehran government signed with world powers in 2015 would lead to “serious consequences”.

Speaking live on television, Rouhani said his government had kept its end of the deal and warned Trump not to tear up the agreement, which had also been signed by Russia, China, Germany, the UK and France.

“I am telling those in the White House that if they do not live up to their commitments, the Iranian government will react firmly,” Rouhani said.

“If anyone betrays the deal, they should know that they would face severe consequences,” he added.

Trump has said that unless the US’ European allies put right what he has described as “terrible flaws” in the deal by May 12, his government would re-establish economic sanctions on Iran, dealing the pact a major blow, Xinhua news agency reported.

Rouhani stressed that Iran was complying with the deal, as has been confirmed a dozen times by the International Atomic Energy Agency, whose Director General Yukiya Amano said in March that a possible failure of the agreement would be a great loss.

French President Emmanuel Macron was in Washington in an attempt to try and persuade Trump not to walk away from the accord.

Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov said on Monday he had agreed with his Chinese counterpart that Moscow and Beijing would try to block any US attempt to wreck the nuclear deal.

Iran has said it would ramp up its nuclear programme if the deal collapses.

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Middle East

Putin warns against further actions violating UN charter

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Vladimir Putin

Moscow, April 16 : Further actions violating the UN charter such as the recent US-led strikes on Syria will result in chaos in international relations, Russian President Vladimir Putin told his Iranian counterpart Hassan Rouhani over phone on Sunday.

The two leaders condemned Saturday’s airstrikes by the US and its allies on Syria and agreed that it would hinder the process of a political settlement in the war-torn country, according to a Kremlin statement, Xinhua news agency reported.

“It was stated that this illegal action seriously damages the prospects for a political settlement in Syria. Putin in particular stressed that if such actions, carried out in violation of the UN Charter, continue, it will inevitably lead to chaos in international relations,” the statement read.

The US, together with Britain and France, launched missile strikes on Syria on Saturday, saying that it was in response to an alleged chemical weapon attack by the Syrian military. The Syrian government has categorically denied the accusation.

The United Nations Security Council (UNSC) on the same day held an emergency meeting over the missile attack at Russia’s request but failed to approve a resolution condemning the bombardment.

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Middle East

Saudi Arabia supports US-led airstrikes on Syria

The Ministry expressed Saudi Arabia’s full support to the US, Britain and France’s military operations on military targets in Syria.

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Syrian Strike

Riyadh, April 14 : Saudi Arabia on Saturday extended support to the coordinated missile strikes by the US, Britain and France on military targets in Syria.

The official Saudi Press Agency (SPA) cited a source in the Saudi Foreign Ministry as saying that “the Ministry expressed Saudi Arabia’s full support to the US, Britain and France’s military operations on military targets in Syria”.

An official from the Ministry highlighted that the operations were a response to the use of banned chemical weapons by the Syrian regime against innocent civilians and its years of “horrible crimes”, the agency report said.

The official held the Syrian government responsible for such military attack and the international community for not taking serious steps against the regime.

The US, Britain and France launched coordinated strikes against Syria’s research, storage and military targets to “punish” the Bashar al-Assad regime for an apparent chemical attack in Douma last week that killed over 70 people. The military action was denounced by Damascus and its ally Moscow as a “failure” and “an act of aggression”.

Western allies warned Syria on Saturday that they could launch further attacks if chemical weapons were used again.

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