U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said that the Iranian government had given al Qaeda a new home base in Iran this week, and announced publicly for the first time that Abu Muhammad al-Masri, a high ranking member of al Qaeda had died on Aug. 7 last year.
Pompeo did not offer any evidence for the claim that Al Qaeda had relocated to Iran, prompting a critical response from analysts who said they were skeptical about the claim.
Israel launched several air strikes against Iran-affiliated militia targets in Syria. The attack is one of the biggest yet, and part of a military escalation taking place during the Trump administration’s final weeks.
The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, an information office based in the UK, said 14 Syrian soldiers and 43 allied militiamen were killed, though the exact number of casualties is unknown.
The Iranian government threatened to expel United Nations nuclear inspectors if U.S. sanctions were not lifted by Feb. 21, after Iran’s parliament passed a law obliging the government to stop inspections of its nuclear sites if sanctions were not eased.
The law also enables Iran to increase its uranium enrichment beyond limits set out in the 2015 nuclear deal if sanctions are not removed. Responding to the demand, Pompeo said Iran continued to have a legal obligation to allow the watchdogs access to its nuclear sites.
And the Trump Administration issued another round of sanctions as part of its maximum pressure campaign, this time targeting Iranian foundations controlled by Ayatollah Ali Khamenei.
The designations sanction the Execution of Imam Khomeini’s Order (EIKO) and Astan Quds Razavi (AQR), their leaders and subsidies.
Pompeo said the foundations were being used by Iran’s leaders to exert control over a wide range of sectors inside Iran’s economy.