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US Issues Further Sanctions on Iran, Targets Drones

Drones are seen at a site at an undisclosed location in Iran, in this handout image obtained on April 20, 2023. Photo: Iranian Army/WANA (West Asia News Agency)/Handout via REUTERS

The United States on Thursday issued further sanctions on Iran, targeting Iranian drones, including their use by Russia in the war in Ukraine, as Washington seeks to ratchet up pressure on Tehran.

The US Treasury Department in a statement said the action, taken in coordination with the United Kingdom and Canada, targets over one dozen entities, individuals, and vessels it accused of playing a key role in facilitating and financing the clandestine sale of Iranian unmanned aerial vehicles to Iran’s Ministry of Defense and Armed Forces Logistics (MODAFL).

MODAFL in turn supports Iran’s elite Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC), a US-designated terrorist organization, and Russia’s war in Ukraine, the Treasury said.

“Iran’s Ministry of Defense continues to destabilize the region and world with its support to Russia’s war in Ukraine, unprecedented attack on Israel, and proliferation of UAVs and other dangerous military hardware to terrorist proxies,” Treasury’s Under Secretary for Terrorism and Financial Intelligence, Brian Nelson, said.

Washington also targeted two companies and a vessel involved in the shipment of Iranian commodities, the Treasury said.

“The United States, in close coordination with our British and Canadian partners, will continue to use all means available to combat those who would finance Iran’s destabilizing activities,” Nelson said.

Iran’s mission to the United Nations in New York did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

The Treasury said it targeted Sahara Thunder, accusing it of being a main front company that oversees MODAFL’s commercial activities in support of the IRGC and Russia’s war in Ukraine.

It said the company plays a key role in Iran’s design, development, manufacture, and sale of thousands of drones, many of them ultimately transferred to Russia for use against Ukraine.

As of 2022, Russian officials were negotiating a deal for Sahara Thunder to deliver and produce thousands of drones per year at a facility in Russia under US sanctions, the Treasury said.

Sahara Thunder’s leadership and shipping network, which the Treasury said the company relied on for the sale and shipment of Iranian commodities on behalf of MODAFL to jurisdictions including China, Russia, and Venezuela, were also targeted.

An Iran-based company involved in the procurement and development of unmanned aerial vehicles, its leadership, and an Iranian cargo airline were also among those hit with sanctions.

The US earlier this month had warned it would impose further sanctions on Iran following its unprecedented attack on Israel.

Washington has since taken measures, including targeting Iran’s drone program, steel industry, and cyber actors.

Iran this month launched more than 300 drones and missiles against Israel, its first direct attack on the country, in retaliation for a suspected Israeli air strike on its embassy compound in Damascus on April 11 that killed IRGC officers.

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OCAD University student is seeking $1M in damages—alleging a lack of protection from threats and abuse

Samantha Kline, 22, presented photos of antisemitic graffiti she says targeted her.

The post OCAD University student is seeking $1M in damages—alleging a lack of protection from threats and abuse appeared first on The Canadian Jewish News.

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Palestinian Islamic Jihad Releases New Propaganda Video of Israeli Hostage

Israeli hostage Alexander (Sasha) Trufanov as seen in a propaganda video released by Palestinian Islamic Jihad. Photo: Screenshot

The Palestinian Islamic Jihad terrorist group on Tuesday released a short propaganda video featuring Israeli hostage Alexander (Sasha) Trufanov, 28, who was kidnapped by Palestinian terrorists during Hamas’ Oct. 7 massacre across southern Israel.

The 30-second undated video shows Trufanov, an Amazon employee, identifying himself and saying that he will soon discuss what has happened to him and other hostages in Gaza.

Similar videos have been released by terrorists groups in Gaza. Israel has lambasted them as psychological warfare.

Trufanov’s mother said in a video released by the family that she was happy to see her son after all this time, but “it was heartbreaking” that he had been a hostage for so long.

Trufanov was an engineer at the Israeli microelectronics company Annapurna Labs, which Amazon owns.

Hamas-led Palestinian terrorists abducted over 250 people during their Oct. 7 onslaught. Trufanov was kidnapped alongside his mother, grandmother, and girlfriend.

All three were released as part of a temporary ceasefire agreement negotiated in November. His father, Vitaly Trufanov, was one of the 1,200 people killed during the Hamas massacre.

“The proof of life from Alexsander (Sasha) Trufanov is additional evidence that the Israeli government must give a significant mandate to the negotiating team,” the Hostages Families Forum, which represents the families of the hostages, said in a statement.

More than 120 hostages remain in Gaza, which is ruled by Hamas. Islamic Jihad is a separate but allied terrorist organization in the Palestinian enclave. Both are backed by Iran, which provides them with money, weapons, and training.

Negotiations brokered by Qatar, Egypt, and the US to reach a ceasefire agreement between Israel and Hamas in Gaza have been stalled for weeks.

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Gal Gadot’s Action Movie Nabs Second Place on Netflix List of Most Watched Films in Second Half of 2023

Gal Gadot as Rachel Stone in a scene from the trailer for “Heart of Stone.” Photo: YouTube screenshot

Netflix released its engagement report that details the films with the most views from July 1 to Dec. 31, 2023, and Israeli actress Gal Gadot’s action thriller Heart of Stone secured the number two spot with 109.6 million views.

The film — starring Gadot alongside Jamie Dornan and Bollywood actress Alia Bhatt in leading roles — was the runner-up to Leave the World Behind, the drama starring Julia Roberts, Mahershala Ali, and Ethan Hawke that garnered 121 million views on Netflix.

Heart of Stone, directed by Tom Harper, was released on the streaming giant on Aug. 11 of last year. The action film is about international intelligence operative Rachel Stone, played by Gadot, who goes on a mission to protect an artificial intelligence system, known as The Heart, from falling in the wrong hands. The film was produced by Pilot Wave, a company founded by Gadot and her husband Jaron Varsano.

Gadot also stars in Netflix’s most popular film of all time, Red Notice, alongside Dwayne Johnson and Ryan Reynolds.

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