Mild Quake Strikes Northern Iran

TEHRAN, (ST)- An earthquake measuring 2.6 on the Richter scale jolted the town of Hashtjin in Ardebil province, Northern Iran, on Thursday.        

The Seismological center of Ardebil province affiliated to the Geophysics Institute of Tehran University registered the quake at 05:56 local time.

The epicenter of the quake was located in an area 48.3 degrees in longitude and 37.4 degrees in latitude.

Iran is criss-crossed with fault lines, it is regularly hit by earthquakes, experiencing at least one slight tremor every day.

The worst in recent times was the earthquake which  hit Bam in southeastern Kerman province in December 2003, killing 31,000 people and destroying the city's ancient mud-built citadel.

The deadly quake in the country was in June 1990. It measured 7.7 on the Richter scale. About 37,000 people were killed and more than 100,000 injured in the northwestern provinces of Gilan and Zanjan. It devastated 27 towns and about 1,870 villages.


Jordanian Security Forces Fire Tear Gas against "Syrian Refugees" at al-Zaa'tari Camp

AMMAN, (ST) -The "Syrian refugees" at the Jordanian Al-Za'tari Camp have been experiencing miserable conditions due to maltreatment and lack of interest by the Jordanian authorities.

In a new development, eight "refugees" were wounded in clashes with Jordanian security forces. The security personnel fired tear gas against the "refugees" while protesting against their unacceptable circumstances and while trying to get blankets to protect themselves and their families from tough cold at the camp.

The incident raises concern about the kind of treatment these "Syrian refugees" are receiving in this camp, which originally established for political blackmailing and pressure.

  News about fires broken out, attacks, sexual abuses and political exploitation carried out against the "refugees" are repeatedly reported indicating the false promises they received from misleading parties.

Instead of uncovering the parties which misled these simple people and urged them to leave their homeland aiming at exploiting the refugees issue politically in order to put pressure on the Syrian state, the Jordanian authorities found nothing to give to the "refugees" except tear gas.

According to observers, the number of the "refugees" in this camp is small if compared to the capabilities of the countries which claim they host and support "Syrian refugees" particularly the Gulf States.   



Vatican Hails, Supports Iran’s Initiative for Syria

Beirut-Vatican’s Ambassador to Lebanon, Bishop Gabriel Caccia, welcomed Tuesday the Islamic Republic’s initiative to restore peace and tranquility to Syria.

In a meeting with Iran’s Ambassador to Lebanon Ghadanfar Roknabadi, the envoy hailed the Iranian efforts.

Moreover, Caccia agreed with the Iranian diplomat that dialogue and diplomacy is the only option to put an end to Syrian crisis.

Congratulating the Vatican ambassador on the auspicious birth anniversary of Jesus Christ, Roknabadi commented on the latest developments in the region and Lebanon as well as Iran’s six-point plan on resolving crisis in Syria.

Highlighting Iran’s significant and constructive role in the region, the Vatican ambassador underlined the need for coordinated action among all local, regional and international parties to resolve the issue.

“The Pope calls for promotion of dialogue and peace,” he said, and noted that “the international community never agrees to shipment of arms to or financial support for Syrian opposition groups.”

In parallel, he confirmed that “it is the Syrian people that should decide their fate through democratic means.”

Referring to Zionists’ unpleasant situation, he said all problems in the region are interconnected with the issue of Palestine.


Occupation forces Detain 26% More Palestinian Children in 2012

The latest reports released by the Palestinians' official bodies displayed that Israel has detained 881 Palestinian children in 2012, 26% more compared with the previous year,according to FNA.

The Director of the Department of Statistics at the Palestinian Ministry of Prisoners, Abdel Nasser Farawana stated that the Zionist regime has arrested 3,848 Palestinian citizens in 2012, including 881 children, 67 women, 11 parliamentarians, and 9 who have been freed in the last prisoners swap .

In addition, Israel arrested dozens of academics, journalists, teachers, political leaders, and civil community leaders.

Farawana added that 97.7% of detainees are from the West Bank and the occupied Quds , 89 are from the Gaza Strip, most of them fishermen arrested in the sea.

He mentioned that an average 321 arrests per month, and approximately 11 cases per day, were made by Israel during the year 2012.

Farawana stated that arrests affected all segments of the Palestinian society, including the wounded people, the sick, the elderly, and become a daily Israeli practice.

It is documented that Israel practices inhumane policies against Palestinian prisoners such as mass imprisonment, imprisonment with no charge, detaining children, regular mistreatment, torture, isolation and deprivation of visits.



Saudi Protesters Hold Anti-regime Demos

 Saudis have held demonstrations against Al Saud regime in the holy city of Mecca and the central city of Buraidah, Press TV reports. 

The demonstrators took to the streets in the two cities on Tuesday, calling for the downfall of the Saudi regime. They also demanded the release of political prisoners.

On December 31, tens of thousands of Saudi nationals staged a protest in the oil-rich Eastern Province to condemn the recent killing of a teenage demonstrator.

The demonstration in Eastern Province was held following the funeral of Ahmad al-Marar, who was killed when regime forces opened fire on a group of protesters in the Qatif region of the province on December 27.

Since February 2011, protesters have held demonstrations on an almost regular basis in Saudi Arabia, mainly in Qatif and the town of Awamiyah in Eastern Province, primarily calling for the release of all political prisoners, freedom of expression and assembly, and an end to widespread discrimination.

However, the demonstrations have turned into protests against the Al Saud regime, especially since November 2011, when security forces killed five protesters and injured many others in the province.

Amnesty International has called on Saudi authorities to stop using excessive force against protesters.

According to Human Rights Watch, the Saudi regime “routinely represses expression critical of the government."