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Iranian press review: Conservative media celebrate 'total victory' in Gaza

Meanwhile, a new generation of drones named 'Gaza' is announced, Iranian-Kurdish refugee sets himself on fire and dies in Iraq, and chess champions lost games due to power cut
General Hossein Salami (L) and Amir Ali Hajizadeh commander of Aerospace Force of the IRGC, unveiling a new combat drone called "Gaza" in tribute to Palestinians, in the capital Tehran on 21 May (AFP/Iran's Revolutionary Guard via Sepah News)

Pro-government media celebrate Gaza ceasefire as 'total victory'

Iranian press affiliated with conservatives and the Iranian Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) has praised the ceasefire between Hamas and Israel as a victory for Palestinians. 

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Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei was the first Iranian official to declare the truce a victory. In a message published on his official website, Khamenei suggested that Palestinians would be victorious in the upcoming conflicts if they all united. 

"The savage and wolfish enemy had realised it was impotent to resist against Palestine's united uprising," his message read.   

On Saturday, the right-wing dailies published Khamenei's message on their front pages and reiterated his narrative of the conflict.

The headline on the front page of the IRGC-affiliated Javan Daily read: "Gaza's missiles have forced Tel Aviv to surrender."

The Kayhan daily, under the headline: "Israel was brought to its knees; Zionists' mourning; Resistance's victory celebration," wrote about the need to continue the fight against "the occupation forces".

Meanwhile, pro-reformist dailies covered the ceasefire as a vulnerable truce, which could easily fall into another round of conflict between Israel and Hamas.

Iranian-Kurdish refugee dies of self-immolation in Erbil

A 25-year-old Iranian-Kurdish refugee, Behzad Mahmoudi, died of self-immolation after he set himself on fire in front of the UN office in Erbil, capital of Iraqi Kurdistan.

According to reports from Farsi media based outside of Iran, Mahmoudi decided to kill himself in protest over the living conditions of Kurdish refugees arriving from Iran into Iraqi Kurdistan.

BBC Persian reported that following Mahmoudi's self-immolation, several sit-ins were organised by Iranian Kurds in front of the UN building in Erbil. 

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Arsalan Yar Ahmadi, an activist for refugee and migrant rights in Erbil, told BBC Persian that the Iranian Kurds arriving in Iraqi Kurdistan receive little support from the United Nations refugee agency.

"With the UN refugee ID card, Iranians cannot even pass the checkpoints inside the Eqlim [Kurdistan]," Yar Ahmadi said.

"The United Nations accepts no responsibility regarding Iranian refugees. Because of this reason, Iranian Kurds have no choice other than to join one of the Kurdish parties in Iraqi Kurdistan," Yar Ahmadi added.

The IranWire website reported that Mahmoudi's friends had informed UN officers that Mahmoudi was about to set himself on fire outside the building, but that the staff did not react to this information.

Saadi Saqqezi told IranWire that along with another Iranian-Kurd refugee, he talked to the UN officers in Erbil and informed them that Mahmoudi wanted to kill himself in front of the building.

"They responded, 'Set yourselves a bit farther, not to burn us'," Saqqezi was quoted as saying by IranWire.

Iran to deploy new generation of drone bombers

The IRGC unveiled a new generation of combat drones called “Gaza” on 21 May, hours after Hamas and Israel reached an agreement to end 11 days of hostilities in Gaza.

According to local media, the Gaza drone can carry 13 bombs, with an average of 20 hours flight time at a highest speed of 350kms per hour.

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In a ceremony broadcast on state TV, IRGC commander Major General Hossein Salami said that Iran's elite forces will deploy these combat drones next year. He also revealed that Iran has been seeking new technologies for long-distance war.

"We need to acquire all capabilities for long-distance wars," he was quoted as saying. "The large Gaza combat drone provides us with new strength in aerial warfare, and we can replace warplanes with these drones," he added.

In this ceremony, Salami also unveiled Iran's domestically made 9th of Dey missile defence system.

Once the most modern in the Middle East, Iran's air force is now the weakest branch of the Iranian military due to international sanctions on arms deals. However, in recent years the IRGC has shifted the country's strategy in aerial warfare and focused on manufacturing various types of drones.

Electricity shortage hits Iran's chess champions

Recurring power cuts in Iranian cities have caused severe problems in holding final exams online at schools and universities, as well as distanced working in governmental offices. They have also affected Iranian chess champions, who participated in this year's Asian Individual Chess Championship.

ISNA news agency reported that all four Iranian champions participating in the tournament lost their games due to a power cut in Tehran.

Dubai is hosting the Asian Individual Chess Championship 2021, which is held in a hybrid format. The games are played online in a public space and under the supervision of an arbiter.

Following the unexpected loss of Iran's chess team, the country's chess grandmasters urged the power ministry not to cut the electricity during the hours when the games are played inside Iran's chess federation building.

"For the country's prestige in this tournament, please don't cut the electricity at chess federation for 10 days," Iranian chess grandmaster Shadi Paridar was quoted as saying.

"These players are so modest. [After the games] they returned to their hotel rooms with tears in their eyes and no complaint. The poor guys have got used to this situation," she continued.

Since last winter, Iran has faced a new wave of severe drought, resulting in water shortages and an interruption in electricity production at the country's hydroelectric power plants.

* Iranian press review is a digest of reports that are not independently verified as accurate by Middle East Eye.