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Wave Of Acid Attacks On Women Rattles Iranian Officials

Recent acid attacks on women in the central Iranian city of Isfahan have apparently begun to upset Iranian authorities, but as much for the media coverage they are prompting as for the real-life effects.

Political leaders have accused both the culprits and those spreading "rumors" of the attacks of being foreign agents.

Acid attacks have been an occasional problem in the past. But several incidents that have emerged over the past few weeks in Isfahan have caused a stir. Immediate suspicions were directed at religious zealots, believed to have carried out the attacks against women who were allegedly badly veiled or driving cars.

The failure to arrest anyone usually feeds public suspicions that such zealots enjoy some level of protection from government authorities. There were nevertheless warnings in the media not to echo "hostile" reports or "point the finger" at a particular group, the BBC-Farsi reported on Oct. 28, citing Iranian media.

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A view of central Isfahan. Photo: Arad Mojtahedi

Isfahan's provincial governor was quoted as saying that no attacks were reported in the provincial capital after Oct. 15, so "all the news being reported in this respect is absolutely inaccurate," before warning the public not to gather in protest.

An Iranian judiciary spokesman Gholamhossein Mohseni-Ejei told the press in Isfahan on Tuesday that the assailants would receive "maximum penalties," but stressed that authorities "will respond to social networks threatening morals and security, like Viber and Whatsapp, which disrupt people's peace of mind with rumors."

He blamed "provocations" for having impeded investigations and prevented the identification of culprits so far, the conservative dailyKayhan reported.

— Ahmad Shayegan

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FOCUS: Russia-Ukraine War

A Decisive Spring? How Ukraine Plans To Beat Back Putin's Coming Offensive

The next months will be decisive in the war between Moscow and Kyiv. From the forests of Polesia to Chernihiv and the Black Sea, Ukraine is looking to protect the areas that may soon be the theater of Moscow's announced offensive. Will this be the last Russian Spring?

Photo of three ​Ukrainian soldiers in trenches near Bakhmut, Ukraine

Ukrainian soldiers in trenches near Bakhmut, Ukraine

Anna Akage

Ukrainian forces are digging new fortifications and preparing battle plans along the entire frontline as spring, and a probable new Russian advance, nears.

But this may be the last spring for occupying Russian forces.

"Spring and early summer will be decisive in the war. If the great Russian offensive planned for this time fails, it will be the downfall of Russia and Putin," said Vadym Skibitsky, the deputy head of Ukrainian military intelligence.

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Skinitysky added that Ukraine believes Russia is planning a new offensive in the spring or early summer. The Institute for the Study of War thinks that such an offensive is more likely to come from the occupied territories of Luhansk and Donetsk than from Belarus, as some have feared.

Still, the possibility of an attack by Belarus should not be dismissed entirely — all the more so because, in recent weeks, a flurry of MiG fighter jet activity in Belarusian airspace has prompted a number of air raid alarms throughout Ukraine.

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