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Iranian police fire in air to disperse anti-war demonstrators


Iranian police here Friday fired in air to disperse about 1,000 protestors, calling themselves Hizbullah, who smashed windows of the British Embassy by stones in the first anti-war rage, IRNA reported.

The demonstrators gathered outside the embassy building on the Ferdowsi Avenue, chanting "British ambassador must be expelled" and "British embassy must be closed".

They threw stones and eggs at the building and splashed its walls with red colors. Police arrested several stone throwers.

Those inside the premises filmed the demonstration scene as special police guards deployed around the building and plainclothes personnel asked the demonstrators to disperse.

Meanwhile, worshipers at the Tehran Friday prayers marched on the streets in the first major anti-war rally in Iran to condemn the US-led invasion of Iraq.

They chanted anti-American slogans and set effigies of Bush and Saddam as well as British Prime Minister Tony Blair on fire.

Similar anti-war demonstrations were held in other Iranian cities.

Iran's former judiciary chief, Ayatollah Mohammad Yazdi, condemned the US-led war on Iraq as well as Washington's plans to set up a post-war government in that country, saying it is impossible to establish democracy with the use of force.

"The right to govern Iraq dwells with that country's people and no body must take this right from the Iraqi people," he told thousands of worshipers at the weekly Friday prayers.

"Neither America and Britain nor any other outside country has the right to govern Iraq," the cleric said, adding "invading a country with the use of arms and military prowess is unacceptable and illogical".

"Is a law of jungle ruling, in which any one who has more power and arms wants to attack other countries and govern them?," Ayatollah Yazdi said.

"The (ongoing) war of the haughty in the region is unlawful and illegitimate," the cleric said. He however reiterated Iran's repeated clarifications that "Iran's condemnation of the war does not mean we approve of the ruling regime of Iraq".

"Rather, we condemn the military attack of several countries on the defenseless people of Iraq without considering international regulations," Yazdi said.

The Islamic Republic has strongly condemned the US-led invasion of Iraq. Iran, which fought an imposed war between 1980 and 1988 with Iraq -- then a close American ally -- has taken a position of 'active neutrality' and reiterated that it will not back one side or the other in the US-led war.

But there is also no love lost between Iran and Iraq which imposed a destructive war against the Islamic Republic and gassed Iranians with chemical and biological weapons during the war.

Rumors of US or British paratroopers landing in Iran denied

An official for security affairs in the southern province of Khuzestan denied here Thursday rumors that two US or British paratroopers had landed in the southern part of the province in the area called 'Khur-e Doraq'.

He told IRNA that there is no truth to such assertion and that in contacts with local people they have rejected any indication that foreign forces have landed on the Iranian soil.

Earlier on Thursday, several reports had quoted villagers in the area as saying that two British or US pilots or paratroopers had veered off-course due to strong winds and landed in the area.

Khuzestan borders Iraq and although several war-related incidents have occurred in the area, life goes on as usual.

The head of provincial port of Abadan Shipping Organization Hedayatollah Feyze-Mahdavi said here Wednesday that despite the intense fighting close to Iran-Iraq border shipping is still operating normally.

"There are no unusual security fallout due to the war at the port," he said, adding there have been no snags in customs operations or in loading and unloading of goods.

He said shipping is taking place normally and "only due to the Iranian new year holiday the activity has somewhat tapered off."

Abadan is one of the busiest ports in Iran with huge volume of cargo passing through its docks daily.

At least three projectiles have landed in the Iranian territory since the war began last Thursday and Tehran has blamed both the coalition forces and Iraq for the attacks.

Two severe blasts rocked the city of Abadan last Friday. The explosions were followed by a column of smoke and dust across the border inside the Iraqi territory.

Iranian oil depot in the southwestern city of Abadan had been target of the first rocket fired from an American plane. At least two people, including a guard of the depot, were injured in the attack and the injured were taken to hospital.

Iran sets up camp in Mehran border city

Governor of Mehran Sadeq Lotfi said here Friday that Iran set up a camp for probable Iraqi refugees on the outskirts of this city in Ilam province.

Talking to IRNA, Lotfi said that the camp, located 7.5 kilometers off the Iran-Iraq border, has all necessary facilities including water and electricity supplies, health and treatment centers, medical emergencies as well as sanitary units.

He noted that some 11,000 probable Iraqi refugees can settle in Mehran camp, adding that the capacity of the camp could be increased to 50,000 people if needed.

Lotfi said that no Iraqi refugees have entered Mehran city since the start of the US and British military attacks on Iraq on Thursday last week.

Team of Medecins Sans Frontieres arrives in Dehloran

A team of Medecins Sans Frontieres (MSF) arrived in Dehloran in Iran's western province of Ilam on Thursday to inspect the city's border strip with Iraq.

Team members are due to enter the Iraqi soil after coordination with political and security officials of Ilam via ground borders.

The city of Dehloran is located very near to the Iran-Iraq border.

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