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Fresh controversy over Donald Trump's first TV campaign ad

US Republican front-runner Donald Trump has unveiled the first TV commercial for his presidential campaign. The ad has sparked controversy by including footage of illegal migrants - filmed in Morocco, not Mexico.

The 30-second advertisement is due to be broadcast in the US states of Iowa and New Hampshire starting on Tuesday - a week ahead of the states' first-in-the-nation voting contests.

The commercial, which cost $2 million (1.8 million euros) to produce, focuses largely on Trump's demands for a ban on Muslims entering the US.

"Politicians can pretend it's something else, but Donald Trump calls it radical Islamic terrorism - that's why he's calling for a temporary shutdown of Muslims entering the United States," the voiceover says in the video.

"He'll quickly cut off the head of [IS] and take their oil," the narrator continues, referring to the extremists that allegedly inspired the San Bernardino shootings last month, when a Muslim couple opened fire at a Christmas gathering, killing 14 and wounding 21.

Trump has been increasingly targeting Muslims in his speeches, particularly after the deadly Paris attacks in November and the San Bernardino mass shooting.

In December, the Republican called for

"total and complete shutdown of Muslims entering the United States"

- comments which the al-Shabab militant group used in a recent recruitment video to

illustrate the alleged Western hostility

toward Muslims.

Critics have slammed Trump's proposal, with a host of political and Muslim leaders saying his plans were both racist and impractical and invited attacks on Muslims in the US.

Controversial footage chosen 'intentionally'

The second focus of Trump's advert was illegal immigration, which the voiceover explains would be stopped "by building a wall on our southern border that Mexico will pay for."

Donald Trump and Ted Cruz

Trump has increasingly targeted Muslims in his speeches

The plans are presented over footage that shows dozens of migrants streaming across a border. Fact-checking website PolitiFact said, however, that the footage of the migrants wasn't filmed on the Mexico-US border but instead in Melilla, a small Spanish enclave thousands of miles across the Atlantic Ocean from the US, on the border with Morocco.

In a statement released shortly after the advert appeared online, Trump's campaign team acknowledged that the images of border security were of Morocco.

"The use of this footage was intentional and selected to demonstrate the severe impact of an open border and the very real threat Americans face if we do not immediately build a wall and stop illegal immigration," the statement read.

More ads to come

The US primary contest begins in just under a month. Despite spending the least amount of money on his campaign, Trump has led public opinion polls for months.

Following Monday's TV commercial, the real estate tycoon is also set to release a radio advert later this week which will feature Kathryn Gates-Skipper, the first US female Marine to serve in combat operations.

ksb/cmk (AFP, dpa)

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