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Iranian authorities have arrested a hard-line theorist who heads a think tank in Tehran after he criticized the Iranian Army.

Iran's official IRNA news agency reported on August 3 that Hassan Abbasi, head of the Center for Doctrinal Strategic Studies, was arrested on charges of "spreading lies" and "creating an atmosphere of skepticism about the armed forces."

In a video published on social media networks in Iran, Abbasi, criticized the army for inaction -- particularly on social and political issues.

He later appeared before a military court, and defended his remarks -- which drew strong condemnation from the army and Iran's powerful Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps (IRGC).

Abbasi -- who calls himself the "Kissinger of Islam” -- is known in Iran for his divisive speeches on subjects including economics, history, politics, and cinema.

Based on reporting by IRNA and AP

The United Nations says the number of civilian casualties in fighting in eastern Ukraine is back to last year's highs.

Fighting between government forces and Russia-backed separatists has killed more than 9,400 people since April 2014.

The UN Human Rights Office said on August 3 that it documented 69 civilian casualties in June, including 12 dead.

This is nearly double the figure for May 2016 and the highest figure since August 2015.

The figure rose further to 73 civilian casualties in July, including eight dead.

More than half of all the casualties recorded in the past two months were caused by shelling, according to the UN Human Rights Office.

"Civilians are once again having to flee to improvised bomb shelters in their basements, sometimes overnight, with increasing frequency,” UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Zeid Ra’ad Al Hussein said.

A cease-fire deal signed in Minsk in February 2015 was meant to halt the fighting, but many of its key points -- including the complete withdrawal of heavy weapons from the front line -- have not been implemented.

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"Watchdog" is a blog with a singular mission -- to monitor the latest developments concerning human rights, civil society, and press freedom. We'll pay particular attention to reports concerning countries in RFE/RL's broadcast region.


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