Bahrain police targets town where sit-in ongoing for cleric

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Pictures posted on Twitter by opposition groups showed demonstrations that purportedly broke out in nearby Shiite villages protesting the crackdown in Diraz.

Bahrain put down the protests with the help of forces from Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates.

U.S. President Donald Trump shakes hands with Bahrain's King Hamad bin Isa Al Khalifa at the Gulf Cooperation Council leaders summit in Riyadh, May 21, 2017.

The regime in Bahrain has taken decision to storm Diraz and attack the house of Ayatollah Sheikh Issa Al-Qassem, well-informed Bahraini sources reported late on Monday, a day after a court gave the senior cleric one year suspended prison sentence.

The Interior Ministry said the operation targeting the town, home to Sheikh Isa Qassim and a long-running sit-in supporting him, was to "maintain security and public order". He could be deported at any time after authorities stripped him of his citizenship last June over accusations that he fueled extremism.

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"Our countries have a wonderful relationship together, but there has been a little strain, but there won't be strain with this administration", Trump said during the meeting.

Ghasemi highlighted the prominent status of Sheikh Isa Qassim as a religious, spiritual and political figure among the Muslim population, and warned the Bahraini government of the consequences of any aggressive move against the Shia leader. Tehran has often denied such allegations.

The government's clampdown on dissent has drawn harsh condemnation from global rights groups and governments.

Trump's administration had approved a multibillion-dollar sale of F-16 fighter jets to Bahrain without the human rights conditions imposed by the State Department under President Barack Obama.

It said the USA had "blood on its hands" for supplying arms to Bahrain despite what it called an "intensified repressive campaign on civil society in Bahrain".

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In his first visit overseas to the Saudi capital Riyadh, U.S. President Donald Trump said on Sunday Washington's relations with Bahrain were set to improve, after tensions with his predecessor Barack Obama over the kingdom's rights record.

BIRD says Manama has escalated its repression since mid-2016.

An 18-year-old Bahraini died in March, almost two months after he was shot in the head fleeing a raid on Qassim's house, Amnesty said.

Bahrain's parliament in March voted unanimously to grant military courts the right to try civilians charged with any act of "terrorism". The cleric faces expulsion from the kingdom after authorities revoked his citizenship a year ago for alleged links to Iran and fomenting violence, charges he has denied.

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