Iran

Ariana Cubillos / AP

COMMENTARY

You could say I’ve got pandemic in my blood. My first American ancestor came to this country in 1665 escaping London’s bubonic plague, which killed a quarter of the city's population.

The United States on Thursday evening launched a series of airstrikes in Iraq against an Iranian-backed militia group suspected of firing an earlier rocket attack that killed and wounded American and British troops.

"The United States conducted defensive precision strikes against Kata'ib Hizbollah facilities across Iraq," the Pentagon said in a statement.

Updated at 3:18 p.m. ET

The Senate approved a bipartisan resolution to curb the president's war powers when it comes to Iran — a rare rebuke and effort to reassert Congress' authority,

The vote was 55-45 — with eight Republicans joining all Democrats to pass the measure. The tally fell far short of the two-thirds needed to override a presidential veto.

New imagery from commercial satellites that was shared with NPR suggests Iran is making repairs and preparing for a space launch, following a recent string of failed attempts.

The imagery, taken Sunday by the commercial firm Planet and shared via the Middlebury Institute of International Studies at Monterey, shows vehicles parked at a building used to assemble Iran's space rockets at the Imam Khomeini Space Center in northern Iran. A second group of vehicles is visible at a circular launch pad that was heavily damaged during failed launch preparations last year.

Hackers linked to Iran are probing American companies for vulnerabilities, cybersecurity researchers and U.S. government officials say.

The warnings suggest that the next phase of hostilities between the U.S. and Iran, following the Jan. 3 killing of a top Iranian general in an American drone strike, is likely to play out in cyberspace.

The conflict between the United States and Iran has flared dangerously in Iraq — and in few places more so than a remote desert air base, more than 100 miles northwest of Baghdad. Iran fired at least 10 ballistic missiles at the sprawling Ain al-Assad base last week in response to the Jan. 3 U.S. drone strike in Baghdad that killed top Iranian commander Maj. Gen. Qassem Soleimani and an Iraqi paramilitary leader.

NPR international correspondent Jane Arraf and freelance photographer Alexander Tahaov were among a group of journalists invited to tour the base earlier this week.

Defense Secretary Mark Esper says the U.S. has the constitutional authority to strike Iranian proxies in Iraq and Iran on the Islamic Republic's home soil in retaliation for attacks on American forces.

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In 2012, the Presidents of Venezuela and Iran met at the Miraflores Palace in Caracas. The bromance between Hugo Chávez and Mahmoud Ahmadinejad alarmed Washington, since Venezuela and Iran were (and still are) sworn enemies of the U.S. So Chávez had fun joking that Ahmadinejad had come to help him “fire large missiles” at America.

That remark may have sounded merely mischievous back then. But not today. Not with the U.S. and Iran actually trading missile fire this month and raising fears of a larger military conflict.

An Iranian Olympian, Kimia Alizadeh, has reportedly defected from the Islamic Republic, according to a letter she published on her Instagram account on Saturday.

The letter was published in Persian and is accompanied by a black and white image of her from the 2016 Olympics in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil.

She describes her decision to leave as difficult, but referring to herself as "one of the millions of oppressed women in Iran," Alizadeh says it was necessary.

Updated 8:38 p.m. Sunday ET

The Trump administration is planning to announce on Monday that more than 20 Saudi students receiving military training in the United States will be sent back to their home country, according to two U.S. officials familiar with the matter.

The expulsions come in the wake of a Pentagon review of the Saudi officer who opened fire last month at a naval base in Pensacola, Fla., leaving three young sailors dead and wounding eight others.

Updated 9:15 p.m. ET

The House of Representatives approved a resolution that would force President Trump to seek consent from Congress before taking new military action against Iran.

The move comes nearly a week after President Trump greenlighted a U.S. drone strike that killed a top Iranian general and led to increased tensions with Tehran.

Updated at 8:36 p.m. ET

Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said Thursday that evidence suggests an Iranian missile strike brought down the Ukrainian jetliner that plunged from the sky Wednesday outside Tehran.

"We have intelligence from multiple sources, including our allies and our own intelligence. The evidence indicates the plane was shot down by an Iranian surface-to-air missile," Trudeau said during a news conference in Ottawa, one day after all 176 people aboard — including dozens of Canadian passengers — died in the crash.

The U.S. killing of senior Iranian military commander Maj. Gen. Qassem Soleimani left many of America's allies in the Middle East confused and nervous. That includes Saudi Arabia, the top regional rival of Iran.

The Saudi-U.S. relationship has become particularly close since President Trump took office. It could prove to be a double-edged sword for the kingdom, analysts say, as Iran contemplates its next moves. Iran and Saudi Arabia have long battled for regional dominance, and the U.S. has supported the Saudi-led war in Yemen against Iran-backed Houthi forces.

Iran's U.N. ambassador tells NPR that Tehran has no plans to step up a confrontation with the U.S. after it fired missiles at U.S. military bases in Iraq in "a measured, proportionate response" to the assassination of Maj. Gen. Qassem Soleimani.

However, Majid Takht Ravanchi, speaking to Morning Edition host Steve Inskeep, says Iran is prepared for further action if the U.S. renews its aggression. He also denied the Trump administration's assertion that Soleimani, the commander of Iran's Quds Force, had been plotting an attack on U.S. persons or interests.

The U.S. Army wants Americans to know they have not been selected for a military draft despite a rash of texts that falsely tell people they're heading to fight a war against Iran.

The warning comes amid escalating tensions with Iran. Last week, the U.S. launched a drone strike that killed the top Iranian military leader, Gen. Qassem Soleimani, and in retaliation, Tehran launched more than a dozen missiles at two military bases in Iraq on Tuesday.

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