Amid crisis, Hezbollah 'bank' a lifeline for some Lebanese
As more Lebanese fall into poverty in the country's economic crisis, increasing numbers are turning to the financial arm of the Iranian-backed Hezbollah militant group for help. He could still pull out the dollars in his account at the al-Qard al-Hasan Association, the financial arm of the militant Hezbollah group. Stepping in where the state and financial institutions have failed, Hezbollah is providing a vital lifeline for some Lebanese. Over the past year, the al-Qard al-Hasan association has seen a significant increase in clients, despite it being under U.S. Treasury sanctions since 2007. That has proven a boon for the al-Qard al-Hasan association, as some turned to it as an alternative to store their cash.
Rally in Baghdad marks 1 year since Iran general's killing
Thousands of Iraqis converged on a landmark central square in Baghdad on Sunday to commemorate the anniversary of the killing of Soleimanil and al-Muhandis in a U.S. drone strike. Sunday's rally was being held amid heightened tensions between Iran and the U.S. in the final days of President Donald Trump’s administration. Their killing dramatically ratcheted up tensions in the region and brought the U.S. and Iran to the brink of war. In Yemen, Iran’s embassy in the rebel-controlled capital, Sanaa, held a ceremony commemorating the killing of Soleimani and al-Muhandis. “This ceremony today shows the deep ties between the two governments and people of Yemen and Iran,” he said.
Iraq says it has dismantled mine on tanker in Persian Gulf
BAGHDAD – Iraq's military on Saturday said explosives experts with its naval forces successfully dismantled a mine that was discovered stuck to an oil tanker in the Persian Gulf two days earlier. The announcement came a day after Iraq confirmed reports by private security firms that a mine had been discovered attached to the side of a tanker rented from Iraq's Oil Marketing Company, known as SOMO, as it was refueling another vessel. Iraq has not provided further details, but the two private security firms said the discovery was likely a limpet mine on the MT Pola, a Liberian-flagged tanker. Soleimani headed Iran's Revolutionary Guard’s elite Quds Force, responsible for the Islamic Republic’s foreign operations and frequently shuttling between Iraq, Lebanon and Syria. His assassination dramatically ratcheted up tensions in the region and brought the U.S. and Iran to the brink of war.
Under pressure, Iran admits it shot down jetliner by mistake
TEHRAN – In the face of mounting evidence, Iran on Saturday acknowledged that it shot down the Ukrainian jetliner by accident, killing all 176 people aboard. Iran had promised harsh revenge after Soleimani's death, but instead of killing American soldiers, its forces downed a civilian plane in which most passengers were Iranian. On Saturday night, hundreds gathered at universities in Tehran to protest the government's late acknowledgement of the plane being shot down. Zelenskiy said the crash investigation should continue and the “perpetrators” should be brought to justice. Iran has invited Ukraine, Canada, the United States and France to take part in the investigation of the crash, in keeping with international norms.
Instagram pulls account impersonating US government agency
CHICAGO, IL – An Instagram account masquerading as a U.S. government news agency was used to promote misinformation about potential fallout from America's targeted killing last week of Iran’s top general. The VOA Persian's official Instagram account uses the handle VOAFarsi and is verified, with a blue check mark in its profile. The caption of that Instagram post, written in Farsi, claimed that Zeinab Soleimani said she was a U.S. citizen. The fake Instagram account had 181 posts before it was removed, Facebook said. The fake Instagram account also listed a YouTube account in its profile.