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Twitter bans account linked to Iran’s Ayatollah Khamenei

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(Last Updated On: January 23, 2021)

Twitter permanently banned an account believed to be linked to Iran’s supreme leader Friday after it posted a threatening image that included former President Donald Trump, NPR reported.

According to The Associated Press, the account, @khamenei_site, was linked to Ayatollah Ali Khamenei’s website and the same account had previously posted portions of Khamenei’s speeches and official content.

However, a Twitter spokesperson told the AP that the account was fake, without elaborating on how it determined that.

The image that resulted in the ban, Trump playing golf in the shadow of what appears to be an aircraft, is captioned “Revenge is certain,” written in Farsi.

The same image can be found on Khamenei’s English website. Below the picture is a quote from Khamenei from last month: “Soleimani’s murderers and those who ordered his murder must face revenge. … Both the murderers and those who ordered it should know that revenge may come at any time.”

Trump and other administration officials have said the US targeted Qassem Soleimani — a powerful Iranian general and a key strategist against the U.S. — who was killed in an airstrike last year.

Trump’s social media presence was all but silenced after he was accused of inciting violence at the US Capitol on January 6. As a result, both Twitter and Facebook moved to ban him permanently from their platforms.

“After close review of recent Tweets from the @realDonaldTrump account and the context around them — specifically how they are being received and interpreted on and off Twitter — we have permanently suspended the account due to the risk of further incitement of violence,” a Twitter statement said.

Trump was also banned from the @POTUS account for the last days of his term and from his reelection campaign account.

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German Defense Minister not ruling out more troops to Afghanistan

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(Last Updated On: February 28, 2021)

German Defense Minister Annegret Kramp-Karrenbauer said if the security situation worsens drastically in Afghanistan, Germany would not rule out sending in more troops if necessary.

Speaking to Deutsche Welle, she said should the situation deteriorate “we would have to talk about a completely new mandate.”

She told DW however that the current mandate ceiling of 1,300 soldiers should be sufficient for the next few months.

The German defense minister arrived in Afghanistan early Friday morning for an unannounced visit to Mazar-e-Sharif, the capital of Balkh province, where the majority of German troops are stationed.

Her visit comes after the German government on Wednesday agreed to extend its military mandate in Afghanistan by at least another 10 months.

Germany’s Deutsche Welle reported that the new draft mandate still needs the approval of the Bundestag, the lower house of parliament.

The current mandate is set to expire at the end of March.

Under the draft agreed by Chancellor Angela Merkel’s Cabinet, German troops would be able to stay in the country until January 31, 2022, Deutsche Welle reported.

During her visit, Kramp-Karrenbauer stated that Afghanistan “urgently needs a settlement between the opposing groups of its society.”

She said German soldiers cannot replace these reconciliation processes, but they were “making an important contribution together with allies, especially in the north of the country,” she said.

“We stand ready to continue to support the peace process. The protection of our soldiers has a very high priority in view of the security situation, and all necessary measures are taken together with our partners,” Kramp-Karrenbauer added.

Kramp-Karrenbauer stated that Berlin’s goal remained an orderly withdrawal of troops from Afghanistan.

NATO Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg said last week that no final decision had been made on the future of foreign troops in Afghanistan – despite the May 1 troop withdrawal deadline.

Stoltenberg acknowledged that the military alliance is facing “many dilemmas” over its continued engagement in the country.

With over 1,100 troops, Germany has the second-largest contingent after the United States in the NATO’s Resolute Support mission in Afghanistan.

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Unemployment spikes in Kandahar as conflict intensifies

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(Last Updated On: February 27, 2021)

Kandahar officials said on Saturday that the local unemployment rate is estimated to be at 80 percent due to the ongoing conflict that has raged for the past four months between the Taliban and the Afghan security forces in the province.

“Job opportunities decreased during war without any doubt. If we say that 80 percent of youths are jobless it is correct,” said Habibullah Jailani, head of Kandahar labor and social affairs department.

According to Jailani, they have been forced to appeal to international organizations for help for destitute people.

“We want to distribute humanitarian assistance to them including foodstuff… and to keep them warm,” added Jailani.

Officials, meanwhile, stated that more than 20,000 families have been displaced in the province due to the war.

Residents said that they are suffering enormously, not only because of no work but also because they are being forced to seek shelter in the city.

“War has increased in recent days; we have come here (to Kandahar city) from Dand district,” said Raza Khan, a displaced resident.

“We have come here due to the war, the war has intensified, work opportunities are also less,” said Mohammad Daud, another displaced person.

Kandahar officials have not however provided updated information about the current security situation in the southern province.

Kandahar was where the Taliban originated and where its power base was located until the fall of the city in 2001, which signaled the end of organized Taliban control of Afghanistan.

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Pregnant Afghan refugee charged with arson after setting herself on fire

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(Last Updated On: February 27, 2021)

A pregnant Afghan woman who set herself on fire in a refugee camp on Lesbos island in Greece has been charged with arson and destruction of public property.

The UK’s Daily Mail reported that the 26-year-old, who has not been named, suffered burns to her hands, feet and head after the incident last Sunday.

The mother-of-three, who is expecting her fourth child next week, provided testimony to a prosecutor from her hospital bed.

According to the Daily Mail, the woman moved her two daughters and son, who are now being cared for by their father, outside the tent before setting it alight in the temporary refugee camp.

The woman reportedly set fire to herself after finding out she could not travel to Germany with others who had been given asylum due to being in the final phase of her pregnancy.

The Daily Mail quoted investigating magistrate Nikos Triantafyllos as having said: “When she was told she couldn’t travel, her distress and disappointment were such she attempted suicide.”

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