Iran, US heat up war of words despite COVID-19 pandemic Apr 03, 2020 0 2869 12345 AFPTehranIran said on Thursday it “only acts in self-defence” after President Donald Trump warned it against attacks on US troops in Iraq, as a new war of words heated up despite the coronavirus pandemic.Tensions between the arch-foes flared in Iraq where the United States deployed Patriot air defence missiles prompting neighbouring Iran to warn of consequences and demand a US withdrawal.Both countries have been hit hard by the COVID-19 pandemic, which has claimed more than 5,000 lives in the United States and more than 3,000 in Iran.Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif tweeted that “unlike the US -- which surreptitiously lies, cheats & assassinates -- Iran only acts in self-defence”. “Don’t be misled by usual warmongers, AGAIN,” he said, addressing US President Donald Trump.“Iran starts no wars but teaches lessons to those who do,” he added.Trump warned Iran on Wednesday that it would pay a “heavy price” in the event of further attacks on US troops.He tweeted that “upon information and belief, Iran or its proxies are planning a sneak attack on U.S. troops and/or assets in Iraq”. In response, Zarif tweeted that “Iran has FRIENDS: No one can have MILLIONS of ‘proxies’”Iran responded angrily to the US Patriot deployment warning that Washington risked leading the Middle East to disaster in the midst of the coronavirus pandemic.Its armed forces chief of staff said the recent attacks against US bases in Iraq are the “natural reaction” of Iraqi people towards Washington’s continuing military presence.The attacks “have nothing to do with our country. The Americans sometimes attribute such things to us, which is projecting the blame,” Iran’s ISNA news agency quoted Major General Mohammad Bagheri as saying.“Iran has no involvement in these actions and no intention to attack foreign forces,” he said, underlining that Iran would still respond strongly to any aggression.Iran has repeatedly called on the Trump administration to reverse its sanctions policy, which has been opposed even by US allies, particularly since the COVID-19 pandemic hit.“This was the best, historic opportunity for the Americans to reverse their wrong path and for once, tell their nation they are not against the Iranian people,” President Hassan Rouhani told a cabinet meeting on Wednesday. Pages 12 RELATED ARTICLES UN envoy in talks for Yemen ceasefire over coronavirus Apr 03, 2020 0 505 Nigeria virus lockdown pushes Lagos poor to the brink Apr 03, 2020 0 622 Saudi imposes 24-hour virus curfew in holy cities Apr 03, 2020 0 650 Iran parliament speaker tests positive for COVID-19 as deaths reach 3,160 Tehran Iran’s parliament speaker tested positive for COVID-19, state television reported Thursday, becoming the latest official to contract the disease in the hard hit country. Ali Larijani “was tested for .. Amnesty says Guinea security forces complicit in poll violence AFP Dakar Amnesty International on Thursday said security forces in Guinea were complicit in election-day violence which killed at least 12 people in the West African nation. Guinea voted on March 22 on whether to adopt a .. Over 250 rescued in Niger desert, put in quarantine Niamey More than 250 Europe-bound migrants were rescued in Niger’s arid north and placed in coronavirus quarantine after being abandoned by traffickers, the International Organization for Migration said Thursday. .. Israel health minister contracts virus, Netanyahu re-enters quarantine Jerusalem Israeli Health Minister Yaakov Litzman, a leading member of the ultra-Orthodox Jewish community, has tested positive for COVID-19, forcing Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu to re-enter precautionary .. Sahel humanitarian crisis ‘spiralling’ amid virus: WFP Dakar More than five million people in Africa’s conflict-ravaged Sahel region are facing hunger, the World Food Programme said Thursday, just as the novel coronavirus is spreading into affected countries. In a ..