Monday, April 18, 2016

From Ian:

16 injured, two badly, in apparent bus blast in Jerusalem
At least 16 people were injured in a possible bus bombing in Jerusalem Monday afternoon.
Initial reports indicated the number 12 bus exploded as it was passing near the Talpiot neighborhood in the southern end of the capital. The blast apparently set a second bus and a car nearby on fire. The injured were believed to be from all the vehicles.
Police said it was not clear if the incident was a terror attack. They were also not certain where the blast originated — on one of the buses, or in the car alongside.
“All avenues of investigation being followed,” a police spokesperson said.
An eyewitness told Channel 2 news that he heard an explosion before the fire.
David Horovitz: Tunnel exposure means next Hamas war is a case of ‘when,’ not ‘if’
So now, finally, parts of the story can be told.
The context to the IDF’s drill late last week, which simulated an attack on a kibbutz near the Gaza border by Hamas forces, becomes clearer.
The oblique references by senior Israeli officials to Hamas’s ongoing tunnel digging, made in television interviews and at public forums, resonate more seriously.
The assertions that Israel will fight the next war with Hamas on its terms, issued by IDF officers who cannot be named in briefings to local military correspondents, take on a more immediate significance.
Why? Because Hamas, the IDF finally confirmed for publication on Monday, has been tunneling under the border again. The nightmare of 2014, when troops discovered and destroyed some three dozen cross-border attack tunnels in the midst of a bitter war, is far from over.
As with those 100,000-plus rockets and missiles deployed by Hezbollah in southern Lebanon with only one address, the question of the next round of conflict with Hamas in Gaza — it must unavoidably be concluded — is not one of “if,” but rather, simply, of “when.”
Does the discovery of a Hamas attack tunnel signal the approach of the next Gaza conflict?
According to all IDF estimates, with the outburst of a fourth Gaza conflict, Hamas will attempt to use tunnels to gain control of an Israeli border community and to hold it - at least for a short time - and to try to take hostages. In any event, IDF estimates also clearly see that Hamas will make great efforts to bombard the border communities in an attempt to cause the residents to abandon their homes, which would constitute a great achievement for them.
Despite all of the drama, the media blackout and the secrecy, it does not change the basic belief that Hamas is not interested in a further round of hostilities at this point, just as Israel does not want another war. From this standpoint, the deterrence which Israel achieved during the last war continues to hold.
Nevertheless, the fear persists that because of an error in judgement, or a miscalculation, the smallest incident is liable to escalate into a bigger conflict that spirals out of control. This is the great danger in the fragile situation on the Gaza border, especially given the dire economic situation of the Strip's residents, Hamas's diplomatic isolation and its relative military weakness.

IDF uncovers Hamas tunnel stretching from Gaza into Israel
The tunnel is 30 meters deep, and was likely dug after the 2014 Operation Protective Edge, according to IDF assessments, though this has not been fully verified.
A senior security source said a "systematic, intelligence-based, technological, engineering, and operational" approach resulted in the finding of the tunnel. "We have to turn this event, of finding a tunnel, into a technique, and find more tunnels," he added.
"The challenge is very big. The tunnels are very deep. We have capabilities that do not exist anywhere else in the world. We can detect, at depths of 30 to 40 meters," the source said. "It is a very complex process." He declined to discuss the technological detection techniques, which remain classified, saying only that "we have developed all sorts of capabilities in recent years, and they have reached the fruition stage." According to defense sources, prior to Operation Protective Edge, the defense establishment was able to find tunnels through randomly drilling holes next to each other along the Gaza border.
"This [the discovery] was not random, but the result of a pattern. It is a technique that identified their tunnel," the source added.
A second defense source said Israel is "in a different place" compared to where it was prior to the 2014 conflict when it came to finding tunnels.
Hamas Terror Tunnel Uncovered in Southern Israel

IDF Neutralizes Hamas Tunnel in Israeli Territory

Netanyahu: Tunnel discovery on Gaza border is 'pioneering achievement' for Israel
The discovery and neutralization of the terrorist attack tunnel from Gaza into Israel is a “pioneering achievement” and significant breakthrough, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said on Monday.
Netanyahu said that the government has invested a “fortune” in the technology enabling the discovery and then destruction of the tunnels. “This is a continuous effort that demands great determination, and to which we are committed,” he said.
Netanyahu said that Israel will respond in force to every effort to attack its citizens, whether by sea, air, land or underground. “I am certain Hamas understands this,” he said.
To the residents of the communities around Gaza, Netanyahu said that the IDF was working “around the clock to ensure your security and the fabric of your lives." He said he appreciated both their confidence in the IDF and their calm.
Netanyahu: Gaza tunnels show why Israel needs freedom of action in West Bank
The types of terror attack tunnels that Hamas constructed in Gaza do not exist in the West Bank because Israel is present there and can thwart their construction in real time, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said on Monday.
Netanyahu, in a briefing to Israeli diplomatic reporters, said that when Israel received any intelligence information about the possibility of burrowing tunnels from the West Bank, it can act at once. He said this was one of Israel's considerations regarding any future agreement with the Palestinians.
The West Bank border is hundreds of kilometers, he said, adding that there is a real possibility of burrowing thousands of tunnels. “For that reason I demand freedom of action,” he said.
Regarding the Palestinian track, Netanyahu – when asked why he doesn't initiate something with Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas – said, “How many times do I have to invite him for talks. There is a certain conception toward Israel that blames it for everything no matter what,” he said. “In the Arab world they understand this is not right, and that Israel is part of the solution, not the problem.”
Hamas vows more surprises to come after tunnel found leading into Israel
Hamas said Monday that a "terror tunnel" extending from Gaza into Israel that the IDF uncovered was but a "drop in a sea of moves" it is preparing against Israel.
Hamas' military wing, the Kassam Brigades, stated that "after massive criticism against the enemy's military commanders and politicians, and following long months during which they attempted to put an end to the fear prevailing in their country…the enemy announced the discovery of a tunnel east of Rafah this morning."
Disparaging the IDF, the statement specified that "during today's maneuver, the enemy attempted to imitate Kassam's operation methods."
Vic Rosenthal: Don’t give the fox the keys to the henhouse
In view of the fact that both Hamas and Hezbollah have been beefing up their defensive and offensive capabilities – and despite repeated claims from Israeli officials that these organizations don’t want conflict with us – it seems to me that the wisest policy would be to prevent the build-up of what would be yet another front in the next war. But that is exactly what will happen if the IDF does not keep the pressure on the terrorists in Area A.
As happened in Judea and Samaria before 2003 and in southern Lebanon after 2000, when we allow our enemies to enhance their capabilities unmolested we find ourselves in a situation where we are deterred from taking action because of the expected cost. Ultimately we are forced to fight, and then we pay the price anyway. Like the withdrawals from southern Lebanon and Gaza and the Oslo accord, turning over security control to the PA purchases temporary – perhaps very temporary – quiet, in return for longer term weakness.
There is another reason not to do this: If the IDF backs off today it will be a boost to the enemy’s morale. Any concession we make will be seen as a victory for the decentralized terrorism of the Intifada of Knives. No matter how much our officials say that the withdrawal has nothing to do with terrorism, they won’t convince the Palestinians, who will celebrate the success that their ‘martyrs’ have brought them.
Our enemies see the conflict as a long, historic struggle, and we should too. Every war, every battle, every terror attack, every inch of land gained or lost, every Jew or Arab that enters or leaves the Land of Israel moves the cursor of history. From 1948 to 1993 there is no question that we were in ascendance. Oslo was an inflection point. Since then, our trajectory has turned downward.
Are our leaders paying attention?
Shin Bet said to oppose IDF withdrawal from Area A
A Shin Bet security agency paper expressing serious reservations about a possible move to withdraw Israeli soldiers from Palestinian cities is being kept from members of the security cabinet, the prime minister’s inner circle of senior ministers that makes key policy decisions, it was reported Monday.
Furthermore, the report in the Hebrew-language daily Haaretz said citing a senior source, a senior Shin Bet figure, who took part in a West Bank tour for cabinet ministers some ten days ago, was prevented from presenting his organization’s position when the subject came up for debate.
The unnamed senior official was quoted by Haaretz as saying that the sides were now discussing a temporary limit on IDF activities in all Palestinian cities with increased responsibility for Palestinian security services. IDF entry into Area A would require the approval of the head of the army’s Central Command rather than that of a division commander, as at present.
Palestinian sources said an additional meeting took place Sunday with Maj. Gen. Yoav Mordechai, the coordinator of government activities in the territories (COGAT), and Roni Numa, the head of Central Command, representing Israel, along with a Palestinian team including PA Civilian Affairs Minister Hussein El-Sheikh and Majed Faraj, head of the Palestinian General Intelligence Service.
The Palestinians are keen to reach an understanding before Tuesday’s meeting of donor nations to the Palestinian Authority in Brussels.
But the Shin Bet fears that a restriction on IDF activities in Area A could compromise efforts to prevent terror attacks, the report said.
Revealed: Brutal details of Ma'ale Adumim axe attack
The military prosecutor's office filed an indictment against two weeks ago against Saadi Ali Abu Hamad, the 21-year-old Arab terrorist who brutally attacked a Jewish security guard in Ma'ale Adumim in February - and details of the investigation prove the act was highly premeditated.
Hamad initially claimed that the motive was personal, alleging that his victim had provoked the attack by "insulting" him, but soon changed his story and admitted to savagely attacking the guard for "nationalistic" (i.e. anti-Semitic) reasons.
Hamad will be charged with voluntary manslaughter - the equivalent of attempted murder in court proceedings in Judea-Samaria - as well as possession of a knife and obstructing justice. A hearing will be held later this week.
According to the indictment, Hamad saw coverage of an event whereby Palestinian terrorists were shot and then were prevented from receiving medical care in January; shortly thereafter, he decided to carry out a revenge attack.
On Thursday, February 25, Hamad stayed over at the deli where he worked. Shortly after midnight, he removed the axe from its hiding place, hid it under his jacket, and started to follow security guard Tzvika Cohen. He then asked Cohen to open the employees' entrance for him - before hitting him with the axe all over his body multiple times.
Cohen suffered severe injuries, head injuries, and a finger amputation. Not enough for Hamad, the terrorist allegedly kept leaving the scene and returning, trying to beat the guard to death; he also took the guard's pepper spray and sprayed it into his mouth to suffocate him.
Army indicts soldier for killing wounded Palestinian attacker
A military court indicted Israel Defense Forces soldier Elor Azaria for manslaughter in the fatal shooting of a wounded Palestinian attacker in the West Bank Monday.
Azaria, a 19-year-old sergeant in the Kfir infantry Brigade, was also charged with inappropriate military conduct.
His name had been kept under gag order until late Monday afternoon, when a court gave the okay to publish his identity after a request from the soldier’s lawyers.
The shooting took place last month in Hebron, a West Bank city that has been a focal point of a seven-month wave of Israeli-Palestinian violence.
Planned Tel Aviv rally for Hebron soldier riles politicians
A planned rally in support of a soldier who shot dead a disarmed Palestinian attacker in Hebron last month is causing a political storm, with some questioning the damage it may cause to the IDF’s image.
MK Tzipi Livni (Zionist Union) said Sunday that “we live in a country where we don’t hang people in the city squares and we don’t acquit them in the city squares. Justice will prevail in the courtroom.”
In a dig at Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu who has remained rather quiet on the issue that has been gripping Israel since last month, after initially condemning the killing, she added: “What Israel needs is not a group of artists who will sing about what the audience wants to hear, but a leader that stands before them and in support of the IDF, its commanders, its ethics and the judicial system.”
MK Ofer Shelah from the Yesh Atid party said the issue unleashed “an unprecedented attack on the IDF’s ability to operate and on its’ commanders ability to issue orders to soldiers.”
Israeli music star caves into pressure – won’t rally for soldier
The popular singer Eyal Golan has canceled his appearance at the rally in support of the soldier who shot a terrorist. The event is to be held on Tuesday at Tel Aviv's iconic Rabin Square.
Golan first announced on Sunday that he will come to the rally "to support the soldier and his family” together with leading Israeli singer David D'Or as well as rap star Kobi Shimoni, better known by his stage name Subliminal.
However, Golan decided to cancel his performance saying he never meant to go against the Israel Defense Forces' chief or the military.
"Yesterday I decided to come, to support the soldier and embrace his family. I never intended to come out against the IDF Chief of Staff, whom I highly respect. I never wanted to come out against the IDF, the people's army," Golan wrote on his Facebook page.
"I received dozens of appeals from people like me who, on one hand, care about the soldier, and on the other see the state and the army as guiding lights. As a result, I decided to cancel my participation in the rally tomorrow."
Three indicted in Jerusalem for helping fund extremist efforts on the Temple Mount
A network of suspects funneled cash payments to Islamist volunteers who harassed and intimidated Jewish visitors to the Temple Mount, according to an indictment issued on Monday.
The indictment issued in the Jerusalem District Court on Monday charges defendants Muhammed Jabareen from Umm al-Fahm and Najib Qawasame Jida and Khalil Abasi from Silwan in east Jerusalem with unlawful use of property for the purpose of terrorism and membership in a banned organization.
A gag order secured on the indictment bans publication of any further details.
The indictment deals with the groups that are known as “Murabitun” and “Murabatat” (the former being male and the latter female), and are made up of activists – many, but not all from northern Israel – who go to the Temple Mount on a daily basis to harass Jewish visitors to the holy site. Many who come from outside of Jerusalem are brought in on buses that are paid for by supporters, and members of the group are given daily stipends, according to Israeli authorities.
Here’s Why Israel Must Never Give Up The Golan Heights
Syrian President Bashar al-Assad has not been in full control of his country since the Syrian uprising began in 2011. The dictator has been having trouble securing territory from the Islamic State and the witches brew of moderate and extremist rebels that have set up strongholds throughout the country.
Assad should be thankful for a seat at the bargaining table at this month’s international Syria peace talks; he should not be farcically demanding that talks must include an agreement in which the Golan Heights is considered occupied territory to be handed over to his unstable regime.
If the U.S., Russia, or any other country actually entertains Assad’s delusions on this issue and asks that Israel give up strategic, mountainous territory that looks down on Israeli population centers and was twice used by Syria to launch wars against it, such thinking would expose that country as openly hostile to the existence of the Jewish state.
Indeed, the Golan Heights, which contains historic Jewish landmarks, is a critical asset for the defense of Israel. And there are many misconceptions about the Golan’s alleged ties to Syria, so let me try to set some of those straight
The Heights was twice used by Syria – in 1967 and 1973 – to mount invasions of Israel. During the 1973 Yom Kippur War, Syria temporarily overran the Golan Heights in a surprise attack before being repulsed by Israeli forces, with Israel capturing the territory. The Jewish state officially annexed the Golan Heights on December 14, 1981.
Syria vows to use the UN to 'take back the Golan'
Syria's envoy to the United Nations on Monday denounced as "provocative" an unprecedented Israeli Cabinet meeting held in the Golan Heights on Sunday, which the Jewish state liberated and annexed decades ago.
"It is an irresponsible provocation committed by Binyamin Netanyahu, the prime minister of the Israeli occupation force," Bashar al-Jaafari said of Sunday's cabinet meeting, which was the first ever to be held in the area liberated in the 1967 Six Day War, when Israel miraculously fended off Syria and other attacking Arab armies.
Jaafari, who is also the head of Syria's delegation at peace talks set to resume Monday in Geneva, said his government would send letters of protest to the UN secretary general and the Security Council.
The letters, he told a Geneva news conference, urge the Security Council and the secretary general "to condemn immediately the (Israeli Golan Cabinet) meeting and demand that it is not repeated."
Jaafari said that he told the UN envoy to Syria, Staffan de Mistura, that "the Syrian Arab Republic has the right to take back the all the legal means guaranteed under the UN charter."
Syrian government negotiator says Israel working with ISIS
The chief Syrian government negotiator at peace talks in Geneva accused Israel on Monday of cooperating with Islamic State and al Qaida militants in the Golan region, deflecting attention from intra-Syrian negotiations.
The Damascus delegation had already sought on Friday to steer the round of peace talks away from the political transition that UN envoy Staffan de Mistura hopes to promote as increased fighting across the country threatens to undermine a shaky truce in place since Feb. 27.
"This Israeli provocation ... confirms without any doubt the cooperation between Israel and terrorists of Daesh (Islamic State) and Nusra Front on the demarcation line between where the Golan is and UNDOF (United Nations Disengagement Observer Force) troops are positioned," Bashar Ja'afari told reporters after meeting UN mediator Staffan de Mistura.

Hamas sentences 5 Gazans to death for giving Israel information
A Gazan military court sentenced five men to death on Monday, charging them with being informants for Israel.
Three of the cases involved alleged spying on behalf of Israel in 2000 and 2001, and two of the men were found guilty of working for Israel in 2008.
Four of the men were to be put to death by hanging, and one by firing squad.
At least one man can still appeal his sentence.
Several of the men were found guilty of giving information to Israel that led to the deaths of Hamas fighters, according to Palestinian news site Safa. Some were also accused of treason.
Israel, Arab nations rapped over Palestinian economy
The World Bank on Monday leveled accusations at Israel, Arab countries and the Palestinian Authority in a report issued before Tuesday’s gathering of international PA donor countries in Brussels.
It blamed outdated or insufficiently enforced fiscal agreements with Israel for annual losses of $285 million in Palestinian revenue, which it said equaled 2.2 percent of Palestinian gross domestic product.
It rapped Qatar, the United Arab Emirates and other Arab donors that had pledged reconstruction aid for Gaza at an international conference that followed the 2014 Israel-Hamas war, saying they had delivered only a small fraction of what was promised.
And it criticized the Palestinian Authority for having failed to open a “dedicated fund” to receive $669 million in pension payments collected by the Israeli government for Palestinians working in Israel.
Hamas denies contact with Israel on possible prisoner exchange
While Hamas remains determined to free its members imprisoned in Israel, the group is not in direct or indirect contact with Israel about any prisoner exchange, spokesman for Hamas' military wing, Abu Obeida, said Sunday.
The Izzedine al-Qassam Brigades held a press conference in Gaza on Sunday to mark Palestinian Prisoners Day, which falls this week and will be honored by demonstrations and events throughout Gaza and Judea and Samaria.
Hamas leader Khaled Mashaal, speaking from his bureau in Qatar, said the group was committed to "freeing all the prisoners jailed in the prisons of the Zionist occupation."
"We are working in every way possible to free our brothers, but everything is in Allah's hands," Mashaal said.
South African Ambassador Visits Gaza, Meets With Hamas Leaders
The South African ambassador to the Palestinian Authority, Ashraf Suliman, visited the Gaza Strip on Sunday and met with Hamas leaders there.
During a much publicized meeting with Hamas’s former Foreign Minister Mahmoud al-Zahar (pictured) and former Prime Minister Ismail Haniyeh, the latter thanked the ambassador for his country’s steadfast support for the Palestinian people, especially since Nelson Mandela’s presidency in the 1990s.
Haniyeh and Ambassador Suliman discussed the “threats” posed by Israel to Al Aqsa Mosque, the prisoners in Israeli jails and the Israeli naval blockade imposed on the Gaza Strip.
Hamas said in a statement that Haniyeh briefed the ambassador about Hamas’ efforts to bring about a power-sharing deal with the Palestinian Authority and improve relations with Egypt.
Al-Zahar briefed the ambassador about issues pertaining to the blockade on Gaza and the closure of the border crossings, as well as recent developments in Jerusalem and claims over the AL Aqsa Mosque.
Arab Parliament declares Hezbollah a terror organization
The Arab Parliament on Sunday designated the Lebanon-based Shiite group Hezbollah a terrorist organization, weeks after two other major pan-Arab bodies adopted resolutions declaring the same.
Parliament Speaker Ahmed al-Jarwan condemned Hezbollah for “undermining the security of many countries in the region,” given its deep involvement in the Syrian civil war, but said the 22-member, pan-Arab body created by the Arab League in 2001, hoped the group would continue fighting Israel.
“We hope Hezbollah points its weapons at Israel,” al-Jarwan is quoted as saying by Lebanon’s Naharnet news website.
PreOccupiedTerritory: Stalin Unclear What Problem People Have With Syria Elections (satire)
The World-War-II-era leader of the Soviet Union expressed puzzlement today over objections raised as to the legitimacy of recent elections in Syria.
Joseph Vissarionovich Stalin, who led the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics from 1922 to 1952, told reporters on Monday that he remained bewildered by Western assertions that the parliamentary elections held in Syria this week were problematic. The legendary, if controversial, Soviet leader insisted nothing was wrong with the rule of Syrian President Basher Assad, and that he should be free to rig or otherwise predetermine elections to his heart’s content.
“What do they want from the guy?” wondered Stalin, whose purges of key Soviet institutions such as the Red Army threatened to undermine the country’s military capacity. “He’s a dictator. That’s what dictators do. I would know.”
Islamic State used human shields in Nineveh
A civilian has told China's Central Television (CCTV) that ISIS, who controlled the Iraqi village of Khrbirdan, in the northern Nineveh province, had been using various tactics including human shields to stave off the Iraqi army's advance on the village for two years, with the locals paying a heavy price.
Umar Zidane, who is now living in the Deebaka refugee camp in northern Iraq, said that it took a long time for the government to recapture the village. During the running battles, most villagers were forced to stay in their homes, however in order to aid their attempts to repel the attacking forces, ISIS extremists also used civilians as human shields.
"The extremists used villagers as shields at the beginning of the battle. They asked villagers to stand in front them and they hide behind the villagers and fired at Iraqi army," said Umar.
The village finally fell to government troops in March.
MEMRI: Article In Iranian Ideological Daily:
"The U.S. And Its Collaborators In Iran Have More JCPOAs Planned – And They Culminate With Iranian Recognition Of Israel"
On April 5, 2016, the Iranian daily Resalat, which is affiliated with Iran's ideological camp, published an article stating that the U.S. administration had a detailed plan for a series of additional JCPOA agreements, each of which would undermine yet another foundation of the regime of the Islamic Revolution in Iran, until its eradication. First, it said, JCPOA 2 would remove the Iranian missile program; then JCPOA 3 would focus on eliminating the resistance axis of Hizbullah, Hamas, and the Houthis in Yemen. JCPOA 4 and 5 would fundamentally change the Iranian regime to remove the ideological camp, and JCPOA 6 would bring Iranian recognition of Israel.
The article also stressed that the U.S. has collaborators in Iran in this plan, and that they are in the areas of politics, media, and academia; thus, it depicts these figures as traitors. In this, the article is referring to Iranian President Hassan Rohani, who spoke in February 2016 and in his Persian New Year (Norooz) address on March 20, 2016 of the nation's need for a "JCPOA 2" that "everyone should step in to implement."
This article is based on the Norooz address by Iranian Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei, also on March 20, 2016, in which he spoke of an American plan for a JCPOA 2, 3, and 4, and of collaborators inside Iran in this plan.
Jordan recalls Tehran envoy over Iranian ‘meddling’
Jordan on Monday summoned its ambassador in Iran for consultations over what Amman said was the Islamic Republic’s “meddling in Arab affairs,” a government spokesman said.
Mohamed Momani, who is also the kingdom’s information minister, said Jordan’s envoy would return to Amman for “discussions.”
Iran in January finalized a deal with world powers over its disputed nuclear program, which saw economic sanctions lifted.
Since the accord, Momani said Iran committed “a series of actions and declarations that constitute unacceptable interference in the internal affairs of Arab countries and especially Gulf states.”
Top Iranian Banker Threatens End of Nuke Deal if U.S. Doesn’t Make Concessions
The governor of Iran’s central bank warned that if the United States doesn’t facilitate Iran’s reintegration into the international financial system, the nuclear deal will “[break] up under its own terms,” The Wall Street Journal reported on Friday.
Valiollah Seif made his remarks in a 90-minute presentation in Washington, which this week hosted meetings by the International Monetary Fund and World Bank.
While the nuclear deal unfroze tens of billions of dollars of Iranian oil revenues, the Islamic Republic says that it hasn’t seen the financial benefit it expected to receive. U.S. prohibitions on Iranian access to the American financial system or the dollar has made it difficult for Iran “to process international money transfers and finance trade freely,” since the implementation of deal began in January, the Journal reported.
In a meeting with U.S. Treasury Secretary Jack Lew Thursday, Seif “focused on Iranian demands for more sanctions relief in the wake of the landmark nuclear accord,” according to officials familiar with the talks.
First Air France flight in 8 years lands in Iran
The first Air France flight between Paris and Tehran for eight years landed in the Islamic republic’s capital on Sunday, bearing a government minister and a business delegation.
The airline’s route had been suspended since 2008 because of international sanctions against Iran over its controversial nuclear program.
However, sanctions have been lifted under an accord with world powers that has now been in force for three months.
Flight AF 738 from Roissy-Charles de Gaulle touched down at Tehran’s Imam Khomeini international airport at 1530 GMT, 20 minutes ahead of schedule, an AFP journalist said.
French Transport Minister Alain Vidalies was on board, along with members of a delegation some 15-strong who will spend two days in the Iranian capital.
Report: Iran’s Gen Soleimani in Moscow for Talks on Syria, Missiles
Shiite Iran’s Maj. Gen. Qassem Soleimani flew to Moscow, despite an international travel ban, to discuss Syria and the delivery of Russian missiles, Reuters has learned from various sources.
Citing anonymous sources, Reuters reports that “the main purpose of his visit was to discuss new delivery routes for shipments of Russian S-300 surface-to-air missile systems.”
“General Soleimani traveled to Moscow last night to discuss issues including the delivery of S-300s and further military cooperation,” an unnamed senior Iranian security official told Reuters.
Iran-backed Shiite militias in Syria operate under the oversight of Soleimani, a Revolutionary Guard general charged with most of Iran’s expeditionary missions in Syria and across the Middle East.

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