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Kuwait arrests 2 Iranians ahead of Shi’ite Commemoration for taking ‘suspicious photos’

An Islamic State-claimed suicide bombing in 2015 targeting a Shi'ite mosque in Kuwait City killed 27 people and wounded scores

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FILE - Kuwaiti security check Kuwaiti Shi'ite Muslims as they arrive to attend an Ashoura commemoration, which marks the 7th-century slaying of Imam Hussein, the grandson of Prophet Muhammad and one of Shi'ite Islam's most revered figures, in Kuwait City (VOA)

Authorities in Kuwait say two Iranians were arrested after being seen photographing Shi’ite congregation halls ahead of a major religious ceremony.

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Kuwait’s Interior Ministry issued a statement late Thursday saying the two men took “suspicious photos” of the halls, also known as husseiniyahs. It said the two men entered Kuwait separately in the past two months.

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It wasn’t immediately clear whether the men had lawyers.

Their arrests came ahead of next week’s Shi’ite commemoration of Ashoura, which marks the death of Hussein, the grandson of the Prophet Muhammad, at the Battle of Karbala in present-day Iraq in the 7th century.

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Kuwaiti police have promised increased security ahead of Ashoura.

An Islamic State-claimed suicide bombing in 2015 targeting a Shi’ite mosque in Kuwait City killed 27 people and wounded scores.(VOA)

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US Will Deploy Necessary Resources to Counter Dangerous Actions by Iran, Says General

Tensions between Tehran and Washington have risen since the Trump administration last year withdrew from an international nuclear deal with Iran and began ratcheting up sanctions

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FILE - Then-Lt. Gen. Kenneth F. McKenzie Jr. testifies before the Senate Armed Services Committee on Capitol Hill in Washington, Dec. 4, 2018. VOA

U.S. Central Command chief Gen. Kenneth McKenzie said Saturday that the United States would deploy the necessary resources to counter any dangerous actions by Iran, Sky News Arabia reported.

“We’re going to continue to reach out to our partners and friends in the region to ensure that we make common cause against the threat of Iran,” McKenzie, on an official visit to the Gulf region, was quoted as saying.

“I believe we’ll have the resources necessary to deter Iran from taking actions that will be dangerous,” he said, according to a transcript released by the Abu Dhabi-based channel. “We will be able to respond effectively.”

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Trump ordered the withdrawal of U.S. troops Syria in December after he said they had defeated Islamic State militants there. VOA

Tensions between Tehran and Washington have risen since the Trump administration last year withdrew from an international nuclear deal with Iran and began ratcheting up sanctions. Earlier this month, the United States blacklisted Iran’s elite Revolutionary Guards.

Sanctions for oil purchases

Washington on Monday demanded buyers of Iranian oil stop purchases by May or face sanctions, ending six months of waivers that allowed Iran’s eight biggest buyers, most of them in Asia, to continue importing limited volumes.

Iranian President Hassan Rouhani and some senior military commanders have threatened to disrupt oil shipments from Gulf countries if Washington tries to strangle Tehran oil exports. McKenzie also said a reduction of U.S. troops in Syria would be done cautiously.

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Tensions between Tehran and Washington have risen since the Trump administration last year withdrew from an international nuclear deal with Iran and began ratcheting up sanctions. VOA

“On the long term, we’re going to reduce our forces in Syria. We recognize that; that’s the guidance in which we are operating. That will be something that we will look at very carefully as we go forward,” the general said.

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President Donald Trump ordered the withdrawal of U.S. troops Syria in December after he said they had defeated Islamic State militants there. In February, a senior administration official said the United States would leave about 400 U.S. troops split between two different regions of Syria.

McKenzie also said he was confident that the U.S. is going to have “a long-term presence in Iraq, focused on the counterterror mission.” (VOA)