Australia’s top travel body has warned Australians against travelling in Iran, after the country’s air force struck a mosque and a school in the country, killing at least 22 people and wounding hundreds.
In a statement on Monday, the Australian Travel Council (ATCC) said Iran’s air defence system had fired on the Al-Aqsa Mosque and the nearby Al-Quds mosque in the city of Mashhad, killing dozens and wounding dozens more.
The attack on the mosques, where many worshipers are Muslims, was the deadliest in the history of Iran’s war against Israel, and was the first time an attack on a mosque had been reported by the countrys air force.
“This was an attack against the sanctity of religious sites and our shared humanity, in the most vicious and vicious way,” ATCC Chairman Richard Branson said in the statement.
A statement from Iran’s defence ministry said the air force targeted a number of mosques and schools, killing and wounding people including women and children.
Iran’s air defense systems have been involved in deadly attacks on mosques in the past, including the bombing of the American compound in Mecca in 1998, killing more than 200 people.
After the attacks, Iranian President Hassan Rouhani ordered a thorough investigation into the incident, which was widely condemned.
The statement from the Iranian defence ministry came just hours after the Iranian parliament passed a new anti-terrorism law that imposes a death sentence on anyone who attacks religious sites.
Amnesty International, a human rights group, said the law, which went into effect on Monday morning, was a chilling reflection of Tehran’s campaign to stifle criticism of the government.
Earlier this month, a military court in Tehran sentenced to death a blogger and an opposition figure, Moqtada al-Sadr, for posting an online article in which he said the country was under “a constant state of war”.
Mr Branson has been visiting Iran frequently over the past year, but on Sunday, he said he had not been able to attend the funerals of the victims.
“The only time I was able to visit the sites of the dead was when we had a visit to the AlAqba mosque and I was unable to go because the guards would not allow us,” Mr Branson told ABC News Breakfast.
Mr Cameron said the United States was working with the Australian government to secure Mr Brinson’s release, but it would be up to the Iranian authorities to decide whether he would be allowed to travel to the country.
“They will have to negotiate with the Iranians as to whether it’s the right time for him to go and I’m not going to speculate on that,” he said.
“But the Australian Government will be working with them to ensure that he’s safe.”‘
I am a Muslim”Iran’s parliament passed the new law on Monday evening, a day after it was criticised for a string of attacks in recent years on mosques and religious sites, including one in which at least 15 people were killed and more than 150 wounded.
It was the latest in a series of attacks by Iran’s authorities, which have been accused of stifling criticism of Iran.
Iranian President Hassan Khamenei, in an interview with the BBC, said he hoped the US would help the US arrest Mr Bronson and bring him to justice.
“If I were you, I would do everything possible to bring him before the court and I hope he would get justice,” he told the BBC.
He said Mr Brison had been jailed on terrorism charges.
“I’m a Muslim and I am a citizen of this country,” he added.
“I have no doubt that if I had gone to a US prison or a US jail, I’m sure I would have been executed.”
Mr Bronson was jailed in the US on terrorism-related charges in the 1980s, and his case was dropped in 2013 after his lawyers challenged his innocence.
Mr Brisson has repeatedly said he was in the United Arab Emirates to support a US-based cleric who is accused of inciting violence against religious minorities.
However, Iranian officials have denied any connection between Mr Brisson and the cleric, and he has repeatedly denied any links to terrorism.
Mr Rouhani has criticised the United Nations for not condemning the attacks as “terrorism” and “war crimes”.
Iran has also been criticised for failing to implement the UN Security Council resolution that passed in 2015 that condemned the bombing.
The council, however, is likely to impose new sanctions on Iran for failing repeatedly to abide by the resolution.