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Israel strikes Iran after weekend drone, missile attack

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Israel has carried out a military strike inside Iran, a potentially dangerous escalation in a fast widening Middle East conflict that Iranian government officials have so far sought to play down.

The United States was given advance notification Thursday of an intended Israeli strike in the coming days, but did not endorse the response, CNN quoting a senior US official reported.

The strikes comes less than a week after the Islamic Republic fired a barrage of drones and missiles at Israel.

Iranian news agency Mehr reported that several explosions were heard around 4am local time in the skies over the central city of Isfahan.

The media outlet said that air defenses have been activated in several parts of Iran, and that Israel also struck Syria and Iraq, hitting military airfields and a radar site.

Hossein Dalirian, spokesman for Iran’s civilian space program, wrote on X that several drones had been shot down, but that there was no confirmation of a missile attack on Isfahan.

Meanwhile, Iran has suspended flights at several airports, including Tehran and Isfahan.

Though, CNN cited an unnamed US official as saying that nuclear sites were not targeted.

The Israeli army told AFP, “We don’t have a comment at this time” when asked about reports of strikes in Iran and Syria. Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s office refused to confirm to the Times of Israel that Israel was responsible for the explosions heard in Isfahan.

On April 1, Israel struck the Iranian consulate building in Damascus, Syria, killing seven senior officers from the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) Quds Force. Iran responded by launching drones and missiles at Israel on April 13. The Israel Defense Forces (IDF) said the vast majority of the projectiles was successfully intercepted, and reported only minor damage on the ground.

Iran’s Foreign Minister Houssein Amir-Abdollahian told CNN that Iran’s response would be “immediate and at a maximum level,” if Israel takes any further military action against his country.

“If the Israeli regime commits the grave error once again our response will be decisive, definitive and regretful for them,” he stated, explaining that warning was sent to the White House via the Swiss Embassy in Tehran.

IRAN PLAY DOWN THE ATTACK ON FRIDAY

Although, the limited scale of the attack and Iran’s quiet response both appeared to signal a successful effort by diplomats who have been working round the clock to avert all-out war since an Iranian drone and missile attack on Israel last Saturday.

Iranian media and officials described a small number of explosions, which they said resulted from Iran’s air defences hitting three drones over the city of Isfahan. Notably, they referred to the incident as an attack by “infiltrators”, rather than by Israel, obviating the need for retaliation.

An Iranian official told Reuters there were no plans to respond against Israel for the incident.

“The foreign source of the incident has not been confirmed. We have not received any external attack, and the discussion leans more towards infiltration than attack,” the official said.

The two longstanding foes had been heading towards direct confrontation since a presumed Israeli airstrike in Damascus that killed several Iranian officers including a top general.

Allies including the United States had since been pressing hard to ensure any further retaliation would be calibrated not to provoke a spiral of hostilities. The British and German foreign ministers visited Jerusalem this week, and Western countries tightened sanctions on Iran to mollify Israel.

In a sign of pressure within Israel’s hard-right government for a stronger response, Itamar Ben Gvir, the far-right national security minister tweeted a single word after Friday’s strikes: “Feeble!”.

Countries around the world called on Friday for both sides to avert further escalation.

“It is absolutely necessary that the region remains stable and that all sides restrain from further action,” EU Commission head Ursula von der Leyen said. Similar calls came from Beijing and from Arab states in the region.

In financial markets, global shares eased, oil prices surged and U.S. bond yields fell as traders worried about the risks.

 

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