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Iran launches hundreds of missiles, drones attack on Israel

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Iran launched explosive drones and fired missiles at Israel late on Saturday in its first direct attack on the Jewish nation, a retaliatory strike that raised the threat of a wider regional conflict.

The late Saturday night attack set off air raid sirens in cities across Israel, including Tel Aviv and West Jerusalem, and explosions were heard as air defences intercepted the projectiles. Authorities said a 7-year-old girl was seriously injured.

The Israeli military said the Iranian salvo consisted of more than 300 “killer drones, ballistic missiles and cruise missiles”, but that 99 percent were intercepted with help from forces from France, the United Kingdom and the United States.

U.S. President Joe Biden, who spoke by phone with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, said he would convene a meeting of leaders of the Group of Seven major economies on Sunday to coordinate a diplomatic response to what he called Iran’s brazen attack, Reuters reported.

Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) confirmed the attack, saying it launched the drones and missiles under Operation True Promise as part of the punishment for “the Zionist entity’s crime of targeting the Iranian consulate in Syria” on April 1.

The Brutal raid in Damascus killed 12 people, including two senior generals in the IRGC’s elite Quds Force.

According to Iranian authorities, the strike killed seven military personnel including two key figures in the Quds Force, in the Syrian capital Damascus

Though, Israel has neither confirmed nor denied responsibility for the consulate attack.

The face-off comes six months into Israel’s war on Gaza, which has heightened tensions in the region, spreading to fronts with Lebanon and Syria and drawing long-range fire at Israeli targets from as far away as Yemen and Iraq.

Before the Iranian response, Iraq, Jordan and Lebanon announced momentary closing of their airspace, while Syria also put on high alert its Russian-made Pantsir ground-to-air defence systems around Damascus and major bases, according to the Reuters news agency.

Earlier on Saturday, Iranian armed forces seized a container ship linked to Israel near the Strait of Hormuz.

Also, western countries have condemned Iran’s missile and drone assault, including the US, the UK, the Czech Republic, Denmark, France, Mexico, the Netherlands and Norway.

Egypt and Saudi Arabia called for restraint, while the UN Security Council scheduled an emergency session to discuss the matter at Israel’s request.

Meanwhile, thousands of Iranians took to the streets of Iran early Sunday in a show of support for the unprecedented drone and missile attack against archfoe Israel.

Thousands of Iranians took to the streets of Iran early Sunday
Thousands of Iranians took to the streets of Iran early Sunday

“Death to Israel” and “Death to America” chanted pro-government demonstrators in Tehran’s Palestine Square shortly after the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps announced the launch of Operation Honest Promise.

A mural saying “the next slap is fiercer” was unveiled in the square where a huge banner has hung for days calling, in Hebrew, for Israelis to “take shelter.”

On Sunday, demonstrators waved Iranian and Palestinian national flags alongside banners reading “God’s victory is near.”

Supporters of the retaliatory attack also demonstrated in Iran’s third largest city Isfahan, where Brigadier General Mohammad Reza Zahedi, one of the generals killed in the Damascus strike, is buried.

Demonstrators also gathered near the grave in the southern city of Kerman of prominent IRGC Quds Force commander Qasem Soleimani, who was killed in a 2020 US drone strike in Baghdad.

general Qassem Soleimani

Tehran had earlier appealed to Washington to keep out of its conflict with Israel, but Iranian hopes were unfortunately dashed after a Pentagon official confirmed that US forces were shooting down Israel-bound drones.

Iran claimed it acted in “self-defense” after the targeting of its diplomatic mission in Damascus.

It said it hoped its action would prompt no further escalation and “the matter can be deemed concluded.”

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