10 Killed In Iran Stabbing Spree

Iran on the map. Credit: Google Map

 

An attacker stabbed 10 people to death in Kerman province in southern Iran due to “personal differences”, before being arrested by police, state media reported Monday.

On Sunday, “an Afghan national killed ten people due to personal differences in Rafsanjan,” Hossein Rezai, acting governor of the city, was quoted as saying by state news agency IRNA.

He “was arrested by the police as he attempted to leave the province” in the evening, Rezai added.

Six Afghans and four Iranians were killed in the attack in a rural area, he said.

One person was also wounded.

State broadcaster IRIB said that the suspect was reported as “mentally unstable” and addicted to drugs.

Iran has hosted millions of Afghan refugees for decades, but fresh waves have flooded through the shared 900-kilometer (550-mile) border between the countries since the Taliban’s return to power in Afghanistan last year.

Iran Foils Attacks On ‘Sensitive’ Sites, Arrests Pro-Israel Spies

 

Iran’s intelligence ministry announced Saturday the arrest of agents linked to Israel’s Mossad who entered the Islamic republic to carry out attacks against “sensitive” sites, state news agency IRNA reported.

The suspects entered Iran from northern Iraq but were arrested before they could carry out their mission, IRNA said, citing a statement from the ministry.

“The members of the terrorist organisation work for the Zionist spy agency Mossad who were sent to (Iran) to carry out terrorist operation… against sensitive sites,” IRNA reported.

The statement did not say how many suspects were arrested or give their nationalities, nor did it identify the targets of the purported plots.

“The members of the network were in contact with Mossad through one of Iran’s neighbouring countries… and intended on carrying unprecedented terrorist activities in some sensitive locations and pre-determined targets,” it said.

The suspects entered Iran from Iraq’s Kurdistan region at an unspecified date and “modern communication equipment” and “explosive devices” were seized during their arrests, the statement added.

Iran and Israel have been engaged in a years-long shadow war, with the Islamic republic accusing its arch-foe of carrying out sabotage attacks against its nuclear sites and assassinations of key figures, including scientists.

But tensions have ratcheted up following a string of high-profile incidents that Tehran has blamed on Israel.

The Islamic republic has pointed at Israel for the killing of Revolutionary Guards Colonel Sayyad Khodai at his Tehran home on May 22.

Two other senior Guard members have also died — one in a reported accident and the other in a shooting — earlier this year.

In April, Iran said it arrested three people linked to Mossad and a month earlier claimed it had foiled an attack on a nuclear plant also planned by suspects linked to Israel.

Girls Arrested For Removing Hijab At Iran Skateboarding Event – Media

File photo of the Iranian flag

 

 

Iranian police have arrested several teenage girls for not wearing headscarves at a skateboarding day in the southern city of Shiraz, along with some of the event’s organisers, state media reported Friday.

A number of girls “removed their hijab at the end of the sports event without observing the religious considerations and legal norms”, state news agency IRNA quoted Shiraz police chief Faraj Shojaee as saying.

“With the coordination of the judiciary, a number of perpetrators and people related to this gathering were identified and arrested on Thursday,” he said.

A video purporting to show Tuesday’s “Go Skateboarding Day” event went viral in Iran on social media.

“Holding any mixed sports or non-sports gathering without observing the religious and legal norms is prohibited… and the organisers will be dealt with according to the law,” Shojaee added.

Shiraz governor Lotfollah Sheybani said the event was “held with the intention of breaking social, religious and national rules and norms”, IRNA reported.

Under Islamic law in force in Iran since its 1979 revolution, women must wear a hijab that covers the head and neck while concealing the hair.

But many have pushed the boundaries over the past two decades by allowing their head coverings to slide back and reveal more hair, especially in Tehran and other major cities.

Iranian media on Sunday reported that police had arrested 120 people for alleged “criminal acts” including drinking alcohol, mixed-sex dancing and uncovering the hijab at a party in the forest in the country’s north.

Under Iranian law, only non-Muslim citizens are permitted to consume alcohol for religious purposes, while dancing with the opposite sex is forbidden.

Twenty-One Killed In Train Derailment In Central Iran

A handout picture made available by the Iranian Red Crescent on June 8, 2022 shows rescuers at the scene of a train derailment near the central Iranian city of Tabas on the line between the Iranian cities of Mashhad and Yazd. (Photo by Iranian Red Crescent / AFP) 

 

 

At least 21 people were killed and dozens injured Wednesday when a train derailed near the central Iranian city of Tabas after hitting an excavator beside the track, state media reported.

The train was on its way from the northeastern city of Mashhad to the central city of Yazd and was carrying 348 passengers, according to the national rail authority, when it careered off the track in the desert at 5:30 am (0100 GMT).

Yazd province’s emergency organisation chief Ahmad Dehghan said 21 people were killed in the incident, according to the website of state broadcaster IRIB, revising an initial death toll of 17 given by national authorities.

Earlier, national emergency services spokesman Mojtaba Khaledi told state television that 86 people were injured.

Khaledi had noted that the number of dead may rise, as some injured were in “critical condition”. Twenty-four ambulances and three helicopters — seen on state television airlifting casualties to hospital — were dispatched to the scene, he said.

Tabas is located in South Khorasan province, roughly 900 kilometres (560 miles) by road from Tehran. The provincial judiciary said arrest warrants have been issued for six people in connection with the accident.

The train “derailed after hitting an excavator” that was near the track, Mir Hassan Moussavi, the deputy head of Iran’s state-owned railways,  told the state broadcaster.

Rescue teams inspected the overturned carriages as onlookers gathered nearby, pictures posted by the ISNA news agency showed.

One of the pictures showed a yellow excavator on its side by the track.

Five of the train’s 11 coaches came off the rails, the Iranian Red Crescent’s head of emergency operations, Mehdi Valipour, told state television.

 

A handout picture made available by the Iranian Red Crescent on June 8, 2022 shows a train derailed after hitting an excavator near the central Iranian city of Tabas, on the line between the cities of Mashhad and Yazd. (Photo by Iranian Red Crescent / AFP) 

 

– Investigation –
President Ebrahim Raisi expressed his grief over the derailment and offered his condolences to the families of the dead.

He also issued orders for a speedy investigation into the causes of the crash, his office said.

Roads and Urban Development Minister Rostam Ghassemi apologised to Iranians on Twitter and said the ministry was responsible for the incident.

“Hitting the excavator was the main cause of the accident,” Ghassemi said, adding that initial reports indicated that the driver only braked after hitting the obstructing vehicle.

“What is clear is the human error, which is more on the part of the driver, and why and how should be investigated more closely,” he stressed.

The Tabas prosecutor visited the scene as a judicial investigation was launched, Iranian media reported.

The train derailment comes after a tower block collapsed in southwestern Iran last month killing at least 43 people.

The collapse of the 10-storey Metropol building, which was under construction in Abadan, sparked angry protests in solidarity with the families of the dead.

The provincial judiciary said it had arrested 13 people, including Abadan’s mayor and two former mayors, suspected of being “responsible” for that tragedy.

The disaster was one of Iran’s deadliest in years and sparked demonstrations across the country against authorities accused of corruption and incompetence.

In 2016, two trains collided and caught fire in northern Iran, killing 44 people and injuring dozens.

 

More than a dozen people were killed and injured when a train derailed near Tabas after hitting an excavator, state media reported. (Photo by Iranian Red Crescent / AFP)

 

The then head of Iranian railways resigned after four of his employees were arrested following the collision on the main line between Tehran and second city Mashhad.

At Least 17 Killed As Train Derails In Iran

A handout picture made available by the Iranian Red Crescent on June 8, 2022 shows rescuers at the scene of a train derailment near the central Iranian city of Tabas on the line between the Iranian cities of Mashhad and Yazd.  AFP

 

At least 17 people were killed and dozens injured Wednesday when a train derailed near the central Iranian city of Tabas after hitting an excavator, state media reported.

“Seventeen people are dead and 37 injured people have been transferred to hospital,” emergency services spokesman Mojtaba Khaledi told state television.

“The number of the dead may rise as most of the injured are in critical condition,” he said, adding that “24 ambulances and three helicopters have been dispatched to the scene.”

Tabas is located in South Khorasan province roughly 900 kilometers (560 miles) by road from Tehran.

READ ALSO: Germany Ready To Send More Troops To Lithuania – Scholz

The deputy head of Iran’s state-owned railways, Mir Hassan Moussavi, told the state broadcaster that the train was carrying 348 passengers.

It “derailed after hitting an excavator” that was near the track, he said.

Some of the injured were airlifted to hospital by helicopter, state television footage showed.

Rescue teams inspected the overturned carriages as onlookers gathered nearby, pictures posted by the ISNA news agency showed.

One of the pictures showed a yellow excavator on its side by the track.

Five of the train’s 11 coaches came off the track in the 5:30 am (0100 GMT) accident, the Iranian Red Crescent’s head of emergency operations, Mehdi Valipour, told state television.

The Tabas prosecutor visited the scene as a judicial investigation was launched into the cause of the accident, Iranian media reported.

The train derailment comes after a tower block collapsed in southwestern Iran last month killing at least 43 people.

The collapse of the 10-storey Metropol building, which was under construction in Abadan, sparked angry protests in solidarity with the families of the dead.

The provincial judiciary said it had arrested 13 people, including Abadan’s mayor and two former mayors, suspected of being “responsible” for the tragedy.

The disaster was one of Iran’s deadliest in years and sparked demonstrations across the country against authorities accused of corruption and incompetence.

In 2016, two trains collided and caught fire in northern Iran, killing 44 people and injuring dozens.

The then head of Iranian railways resigned after four of his employees were arrested following the collision on the main line between Tehran and the second city Mashhad.

US Demands Iran Release Seized Tankers, Crew

The Liberian-flagged oil tanker Ice Energy (L) transfers crude oil from the Iranian-flagged oil tanker Lana (R) (former Pegas), off the shore of Karystos, on the Island of Evia, on May 29, 2022. Angelos Tzortzinis / AFP
The Liberian-flagged oil tanker Ice Energy (L) transfers crude oil from the Iranian-flagged oil tanker Lana (R) (former Pegas), off the shore of Karystos, on the Island of Evia, on May 29, 2022. Angelos Tzortzinis / AFP

 

The United States joined Athens on Monday in strongly condemning Iran’s seizure of two Greek-flagged oil tankers in Gulf waters and demanding their immediate release, calling the abductions a “threat to maritime security.”

US Secretary of State Antony Blinken and Greek Foreign Minister Nikos Dendias agreed in a call “that Iran must immediately release the seized vessels, their cargoes, and their crews,” State Department spokesman Ned Price said in a statement.

“Iran’s continued harassment of vessels and interference with navigational rights and freedoms are a threat to maritime security and the global economy,” Price added.

READ ALSO: Around 100 Dead In Clashes Between Chad Gold Miners

“The United States stands with Greece, our key NATO Ally and partner in the face of this unjustified seizure.”

Iran’s Revolutionary Guards seized the Greek tankers in the Gulf Friday, days after Athens confirmed it would deliver to Washington Iranian oil it had seized from a Russian tanker.

Tehran said Saturday the crews of the two tankers were in “good health” and not under arrest.

The crews — Greece says nine of its citizens are among the ship workers, but has not specified the number of other sailors on board — have remained on board the two tankers.

Greece has condemned Tehran’s seizures as “tantamount to acts of piracy” and warned its citizens not to travel to Iran.

The Revolutionary Guards — the ideological arm of Iran’s military — had said it seized the tankers “due to violations”, without elaborating further.

Greece said one of the tankers had been sailing in international waters, while the second was near the Iranian coast when it was seized.

Athens said Iranian navy helicopters had landed gunmen on the two tankers.

 

AFP

Iran Says Awaits US Response To Nuclear Talks ‘Solutions’

Iran’s foreign ministry spokesman Saeed Khatibzadeh holds a press conference in Tehran on May 9, 2022.  ATTA KENARE / AFP

 

Iran said on Monday it awaited the US response to “solutions” discussed with the EU envoy for breaking a stalemate in talks aimed at restoring the 2015 nuclear deal.

The European Union’s coordinator for nuclear talks with Iran, Enrique Mora, held two days of discussions with the Islamic republic’s chief negotiator Ali Bagheri in Tehran last week, leading the EU to say talks had been unblocked.

The negotiations, aimed at bringing the US back into the deal and Iran to full compliance with it, had stalled for about two months.

“Serious and result-oriented negotiations with special initiatives from Iran were held,” Iranian foreign ministry spokesman Saeed Khatibzadeh told reporters.

“If the US gives its response to some of the solutions that were proposed, we can be in the position that all sides return to Vienna,” where the talks are held, he added during his weekly press conference.

Iran has been engaged in direct negotiations with France, Germany, Britain, Russia and China to revive the deal, known formally as the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA). The US has participated indirectly.

The 2015 agreement gave Iran sanctions relief in exchange for curbs on its nuclear programme to prevent Tehran from developing an atomic bomb — something it has always denied wanting to do.

But the US unilateral withdrawal from the accord in 2018 under then-president Donald Trump and the reimposition of biting economic sanctions prompted Iran to begin rolling back on its own commitments.

“If the US announces its political decision today, which we have not yet received, we can say that an important step has been taken in the progress of the negotiations,” Khatibzadeh noted.

Among the sticking points is Tehran’s demand to remove the Revolutionary Guards, the ideological arm of Iran’s military, from a US terrorism list.

EU Foreign Policy Chief Josep Borrell on Friday said Mora’s mission to Tehran went “better than expected” and the stalled negotiations “have been reopened.”

Washington, however, has adopted a less optimistic tone. State Department spokesman Ned Price said on Friday that “at this point, a deal remains far from certain.”

He added: “It is up to Iran to decide whether it wants to conclude a deal quickly.”

Talks on reviving the agreement began in April last year.

Israel Says Iran Tried To Recruit Agents Via Facebook

In this file illustration photo taken on March 25, 2020, a Facebook app logo is displayed on a smartphone in Arlington, Virginia. Olivier DOULIERY / AFP
In this file illustration photo taken on March 25, 2020, a Facebook app logo is displayed on a smartphone in Arlington, Virginia. Olivier DOULIERY / AFP

 

Israel’s internal security agency on Monday accused Iran of using a fake Facebook profile to try and get Israelis to collect information and harm people in their country.

Shin Bet’s allegation comes days after Israel claimed that the Islamic republic of Iran had plotted to assassinate an Israeli diplomat in Turkey, as global powers seek to revive a nuclear deal with Tehran.

According to the Shin Bet, the profile of a young Jewish-Canadian woman called Sara Puppi with ties in Israel was fake and belonged to an Iranian agent using the social network to befriend primarily Israelis.

READ ALSO: Ukraine To Evacuate More Civilians From Besieged Mariupol

After contact was made, Puppi would use the WhatsApp messaging app to try and persuade her new friends “to gather information on Israeli figures while gauging their willingness to harm them, using pressure and promising thousands of dollars”, the Shin Bet said.

“Emotional and romantic manipulations were also used,” the agency added in a statement.

It said that Shin Bet agents had posed as “friends” of Puppi — whose account had more than 2,000 friends before disappearing on Monday — and received a Bitcoin payment from her.

“The Iranian operative behind the account used a business cover story to give various missions,” the Shin Bet said.

Puppi expressed a will to harm LGBT people as well as “business representatives and diplomats from Arab countries operating in Israel”, it said.

Those behind the account also tried to damage Israel’s ties with Russia by encouraging people to criticise Russian President Vladimir Putin over the Ukraine war, the Shin Bet said.

The Shin Bet told AFP they could link the account to Iran with intelligence they obtained.

Meanwhile, Israel claimed on the weekend it had “foiled” alleged bids by Iran “to assassinate a US general in Germany, a journalist in France and an Israeli diplomat in Turkey”.

The plots “were ordered, approved and funded by the senior leadership of the Iranian regime and were intended to be executed by the IRGC (Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps)”, said a statement from the prime minister’s office.

A suspect, named as Mansour Rasuli, was detained and interrogated by Mossad agents in Iran and allegedly confessed he had been tasked by the Islamic republic to carry out the killings, it said. Rasuli was then freed.

The premier’s office refused to provide further details and there was no immediate reaction from Iran.

 

AFP

FIFA Urged To Eject Iran From World Cup Over Women Stadium Ban

The FIFA World Cup trophy and the official 2022 World Cup ball called Al-Rihla, which means “the journey” in Arabic, are seen on stage during the draw for the 2022 World Cup in Qatar at the Doha Exhibition and Convention Center on April 1, 2022. (Photo by KARIM JAAFAR / AFP)

 

FIFA on Friday faced calls to sanction Iran and even throw its team out of the 2022 World Cup finals over the Islamic republic’s renewed failure to allow women to attend an international football match.

Iranian news agencies this week confirmed that 2,000 women who had bought tickets for Tuesday’s World Cup qualifier against Lebanon in the northeastern city of Mashhad could not enter the stadium.

Activists based outside Iran accused the authorities of using pepper spray at close range to disperse women who then protested the ban outside the venue.

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The United for Navid group of exiled Iranian athletes and activists, set up after the execution of wrestling champion Navid Afkari in September 2020, said Iran should be suspended from international football until it changes its stance.

“We formally request that FIFA immediately suspend Iran and prohibit its participation in the World Cup 2022 as long as the Football Federation of Iran continues to violate the Olympic Charter and FIFA regulations,” it said in a letter to FIFA’s deputy secretary general Mattias Grafstrom.

In the letter, a copy of which was obtained by AFP Friday, it said that Iran had pledged to FIFA that it would end its policy of “gender apartheid” by allowing women to attend matches.

“But not only has Iran broken that promise by continuing to bar women from entering a stadium but women are beaten, abused and threatened,” it added.

United for Navid said Iran “continues to ignore” FIFA’s requests to show “basic adherence” to human rights.

‘Long Overdue’ 

Human Rights Watch meanwhile urged FIFA to demand that Iran urgently overturn the “discriminatory” stadium ban on women and ensure accountability for abuses.

“Given the Iranian authorities’ longstanding violations, FIFA needs to follow its own global guidelines on nondiscrimination and should consider enforcing penalties for Iran’s noncompliance,” Tara Sepehri Far, HRW’s senior Iran researcher, said in a statement.

The New York-based NGO said that under FIFA’s statutes discrimination on the basis of gender is “strictly prohibited and punishable by suspension or expulsion”.

“It is long overdue for FIFA to demonstrate that it is serious in enforcing transparent accountability measures,” said Sepehri Far.

There was considerable criticism from within Iran over the lockout, including from Iran’s team captain Alireza Jahanbakhsh, and Mashhad’s governor apologised.

President Ebrahim Raisi on Wednesday instructed the interior ministry to look into the incident.

In January, women were allowed to attend an international for the first time in almost three years, for a World Cup qualifier against Iraq that also saw the Team Melli win its place for the finals in Qatar, the draw for which was taking place on Friday.

A FIFA spokesperson told AFP on Wednesday that it had learned with “concern” of the reports of women being barred after “historic progress” exemplified by the January 2021 match.

“FIFA expects this to continue, as there can be no turning back.”

Pressure on Iran to act had increased since the death in 2019 of female fan Sahar Khodayari — known as the “blue girl” after the colours of her favourite Tehran team Esteghlal — who set herself on fire in fear of being jailed after trying to attend a match in disguise.

Navid Afkari, a 27-year-old wrestler who had won national competitions, was hanged in September 2020 in the southern city of Shiraz after being convicted of committing murder during protests that rocked the city two years before.

He had complained of being tortured into confessing, with methods that included beating and having alcohol squirted up his nose.

AFP

Russian Demands Threaten To Derail Iran Nuclear Talks

Iran's chief nuclear negotiator Ali Bagheri Kani (C) is leaving the Coburg Palais, the venue of the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA), after his meeting with Deputy Secretary General of the European External Action Service (EEAS) Enrique Mora (not pictured), in Vienna on March 11, 2022. JOE KLAMAR / AFP
Iran’s chief nuclear negotiator Ali Bagheri Kani (C) is leaving the Coburg Palais, the venue of the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA), after his meeting with Deputy Secretary General of the European External Action Service (EEAS) Enrique Mora (not pictured), in Vienna on March 11, 2022. JOE KLAMAR / AFP

 

Last-minute Russian demands related to the Ukraine conflict threatened to derail the near-complete process of reviving the Iran nuclear deal Friday, as the EU announced negotiations would be paused.

The EU’s foreign policy chief Josep Borrell tweeted that the pause was “due to external factors,” despite the fact that “a final text is essentially ready and on the table”.

The current round of negotiations started in late November in the Austrian capital Vienna between Britain, China, France, Germany, Iran and Russia, with the US taking part indirectly.

They had progressed most of the way toward their aim — the revival of the 2015 Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA), which began unravelling when former US President Donald Trump withdrew from the deal in 2018.

READ ALSO: Russia Ramps Up Ties With Sudan As Ukraine War Rages

The EU diplomat who has been chairing the talks, Enrique Mora, told reporters that delegations had got to the point of “negotiating footnotes”.

He praised in particular the United States and Iran for their “very constructive, very positive approach”, adding that he hoped to see the talks resume “very, very soon”.

However, last week Russia said it was demanding guarantees that the Western sanctions imposed on its economy following its invasion of Ukraine would not affect its trade with Iran.

As with the original JCPOA in 2015, Moscow had been expected to play a role in the implementation of any fresh deal, for example by receiving shipments of enriched uranium from Iran.

“The Ukraine conflict has now entered the Vienna talks in a very real way,” Eric Brewer of the Nuclear Threat Initiative told AFP.

He said the “blanket guarantee” demanded by Moscow “has thrown a wrench into this process at the last minute that really threatens to upend talks and prevent the restoration of the JCPOA”.

The United States on Friday put the ball in Iran and Russia’s court after the EU announcement.

“We are confident that we can achieve mutual return to compliance… (if) those decisions are made in places like Tehran and Moscow,” State Department spokesman Ned Price told reporters.

Energy ‘weapon’

One EU source close to the talks said that Russia had at first made “reasonable” requests related to its civilian nuclear activities in Iran, but that they were then broadened “outside the scope of the JCPOA”.

Another diplomat from one of the European parties to deal said that “if the Russian block is confirmed to be definitive, we will be obliged to look at other options,” adding that Moscow could not be allowed to “take the deal hostage”.

The head of the British delegation Stephanie al-Qaq tweeted that she was “deeply disappointed” at the pause in the talks.

The last-minute hitch must be resolved in the “next few days”, she warned, or else the agreement was “likely to unravel”.

After he withdrew from the JCPOA, Trump went on to reimpose sanctions on Iran, including on its vital oil sector.

That prompted Iran to start disregarding the curbs laid down in the deal on its nuclear activity.

The JCPOA aimed to ensure Iran would not be able to develop a nuclear weapon, which it has always denied seeking.

“Russia’s gambit may be to delay the revival of the deal in order to avoid a flood of Iranian oil on the market” and the subsequent fall in prices, Clement Therme, Iran specialist at France’s Paul Valery University told AFP.

“In keeping prices high, the Kremlin can use energy as a weapon against the West,” he added.

Russia rejects blame

As for Iran itself, “the Islamic Republic isn’t in a position to counter the Russian strategy,” Therme said.

“Moscow is making use of Iran’s weakness.”

Tehran itself has blamed the US for “creating challenges” in the final stage of the talks.

Iranian foreign ministry spokesman Saeed Khatibzadeh said in a tweet Friday that “no external factor will affect our joint will to go forward for a collective agreement”.

Russia’s ambassador to the UN in Vienna, Mikhail Ulyanov, told reporters outside the talks venue that he rejected “attempts to put all the blame on the Russian Federation”, insisting that other parties to the talks “need additional time”.

A European source said it was now up to Iran and China to apply pressure to Moscow to make sure the deal was not scuppered.

AFP

Israelis, Arabs, Iranians Flee Ukraine Amidst Shelling

Family members wait for the arrival of Israeli passengers arriving from Ukraine via the border with Romania on an Israeli ‘Israir’ rescue flight at Israel’s Ben Gurion airport in Lod, near Tel Aviv, on March 1, 2022. JACK GUEZ / AFP

 

Israelis, Iranians and Tunisians landed back in their home countries Tuesday to the tearful relief of relatives, as evacuations of nationals caught up in the Russian invasion of Ukraine gathered pace.

The evacuees had all been forced to make harrowing escapes by land through the war zone to board repatriation flights in neighbouring countries after Ukraine closed its airspace to civilian traffic at the start of the invasion last week.

One of the first repatriation flights bringing home Israeli evacuees landed at Ben Gurion airport from Romania.

Badr Tawil, 23, a student who fled Ukraine’s under-fire second city Kharkiv, said he had escaped chaos.

“We just woke up once and we heard the sounds around us. Bombs everywhere. So we decided to leave, just to leave Ukraine,” he said.

Israeli Foreign Minister Yair Lapid said Monday his office had helped 4,000 Israelis leave Ukraine since Russia invaded.

“We will do everything to not leave any Israeli behind, or any Jew behind,” he told journalists.

Many of the Israelis repatriated on Tuesday were members of the Arab minority, who make up 20 percent of the Jewish state’s population.

A student, who identified himself only as Hussein, described a terrifying escape from the war zone.

“For four days, we have been sleeping in staircases and train stations,” he said.

“We had a really difficult time without food. I was in Ukraine in Kharkiv. It is the last year of my studies, but now I left everything to return.”

Uda Abu Saied, whose son Muhammad returned on the flight, said she had been terrified for his safety.

“I wasn’t sure if my son would return or not. He was in the most dangerous place,” she said.

“They went on their own with the bus for 24 hours, and I imagined all kinds of scenarios like a missile hitting and killing them, or maybe that they would get captured.”

The foreign ministry said Monday that one Israeli had been killed in Ukraine when the convoy he was travelling in came under fire as he tried to reach neighbouring Moldova.

The foreign ministry said authorities had contacted the man’s wife, who was in Ukraine with their children.

‘Nightmare’

Israeli passengers arriving from Ukraine via the border with Romania on an Israeli ‘Israir’ rescue flight are welcomed by their family upon arrival at Israel’s Ben Gurion airport in Lod, near Tel Aviv, on March 1, 2022.JACK GUEZ / AFP

 

Iran’s state media said a first repatriation flight carrying nationals fleeing Ukraine landed in Tehran from Poland at around 7:00 am (0330 GMT).

In Tunis, a group of 106 Tunisian students and a baby arrived on a special repatriation flight by military aircraft from the Romanian capital Bucharest.

In emotional scenes, they were welcomed by their relatives.

Foreign Minister Othman Jerandi, who was at the airport, said a further 480 Tunisian students would be repatriated in the coming days via Romania or Poland.

“We went through a nightmare, through a war,” said engineering student Aymen Badri.

Fellow engineering student Hamdi Boussaa said getting across the border into Romania had been “a very complex operation”.

Some 1,700 Tunisians live in Ukraine, mostly students.

In all, more than 10,000 Arab students attend university in Ukraine, drawn to the former Soviet republic by its low cost of living.

Other Arab governments are also planning repatriation flights.

Morocco, which has around 8,000 students enrolled in Ukrainian universities, said it was organising special flights from Bucharest, Budapest and Warsaw on both Wednesday and Thursday.

Evacuees will be charged 750 dirhams (70 euros) per head for the one-way trip to Casablanca.

The Palestinian foreign ministry said it was scrambling to assist some 2,600 nationals trapped in Ukraine, hundreds of them students.

More than 660,000 people have fled Ukraine to neighbouring countries since Russia launched its invasion last week, the UN refugee agency said on Tuesday.

That includes hundreds of thousands of Ukrainians, mostly women and children, as well as third-country nationals.

-AFP

Three Killed As Iranian Fighter Jet Crashes Into School


A handout picture provided by the news agency TASNIM on February 21, 2022 shows firefighters putting out a blaze at the crash site of a fighter jet in a residential area of the northwestern city of Tabriz. TASNIM NEWS / AFP

 

An Iranian F-5 fighter jet crashed into a school compound in the northwestern city of Tabriz on Monday, killing two crew and a passerby, authorities said.  

“Luckily the school was closed because of the Covid-19 pandemic,” local official Mohammad-Bagher Honarvar told state television.

The aircraft was on a training mission when it went down around 9:00 am (0530 GMT) in the city’s central district of Monajem, said Honavar, who heads a crisis management unit in East Azerbaijan province.

The head of the local Red Crescent organisation said the plane crashed into an external wall, and that one of the dead was a nearby resident.

READ ALSO: Putin To Host Iran’s Raisi In Moscow On Wednesday

A blaze broke out at the crash site and firefighters were seen battling the flames as a crowd looked on, in video footage by the official news agency IRNA.

The charred remains of the warplane could be seen amid the rubble of the school’s blackened facade.

The plane had been stationed at the Shahid Fakouri air base in Tabriz, base commander General Reza Youssefi told the broadcaster, adding that it was heading back from the training mission when it encountered a technical problem that prevented it from landing.

Ageing Fleet 


A handout picture provided by the news agency TASNIM on February 21, 2022, shows firefighters putting out a blaze at the crash site of a fighter jet in a residential area of the northwestern city of Tabriz.  TASNIM NEWS / AFP

 

Iran’s airforce has some 300 warplanes, mostly Russian MiG-29 and Sukhoi-25 fighters that date back to the Soviet era, as well as Chinese F-7s, and French Mirage F1s.

The fleet also includes some American F-4 and F-5 jets that date back to the regime of the Western-backed shah, who was ousted in the 1979 Islamic revolution.

Experts say that only some of these aircraft are operational.

In August 2006, Iran announced it had developed a new warplane named “Azarakhsh” (Lightning) which it described as similar to the F-5.

A year later it unveiled another home-grown jet calling it “Saegheh” (Thunder), saying it was similar to the American F-18.

But some Western military experts have said the Saegheh is a derivative of the F-5.

Monday’s fighter jet crash was the first accident involving a military plane reported by Iran since December 2019.


A handout picture provided by the news agency TASNIM on February 21, 2022, shows firefighters putting out a blaze at the crash site of a fighter jet in a residential area of the northwestern city of Tabriz.  TASNIM NEWS / AFP

 

Back then, a MiG-29 warplane went down near a dormant volcano in the country’s northwest during a test flight, according to official media.

Three days later the military confirmed the death of the pilot.

In January 2019, a military cargo plane overshot a runway, crashed and caught fire during a botched landing near the capital Tehran.

At the time the army said 15 people were killed in the accident.

A combat jet also crashed in Tabriz during military exercises in September 2011, local media reported.

Iran has been subject to severe US sanctions since 2018 when the US withdrew from a landmark nuclear deal struck three years earlier between Tehran and world powers.

Talks are underway in Vienna to revive the deal and Iran is calling for sanctions to be lifted.

AFP