Iran attacks Israel with drones and missiles in major escalation

Explosions were heard in Jerusalem, Amman and Iraq cities as US, Israel and others took down projectiles across the region

Iran launches drone attack on Israel

Iran launches drone attack on Israel
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Iran fired a barrage of more than 300 drones and missiles at Israel on Saturday, officials said, marking a major escalation in the Middle East that threatens to lead to a war between the two countries.

The attack came after Iran had vowed to retaliate for an Israeli strike on its Damascus embassy compound on April 1 that killed two senior Iranian commanders and other members of its elite force.

Iran's reprisal attack on Saturday was thought to mark the first time Tehran had struck Israel directly from Iran, instead of relying on proxies in Lebanon, Syria and elsewhere.

Iran’s mission to the UN said the attack would be “deemed concluded” if Israel doesn’t strike back. The Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps warned it would retaliate against the source of any attack from any country in the region.

“Iran’s Islamic Revolution Guards Corps has announced firing dozens of drones and missiles towards the positions of the Zionist regime in the occupied Palestinian territories”, Iran's state-run news agency Irna reported.

“The strikes are in response to numerous crimes committed by the Zionist regime, including an attack on the consular section of the Iranian embassy in Damascus”, it added.

US President Joe Biden said he would convene fellow G7 leaders on Sunday to “co-ordinate a united diplomatic response to Iran’s brazen attack.”

Israeli military spokesman Daniel Hagari said Iran launched 170 drones, 30 cruise missiles and 120 ballistic missiles at Israel.

None of the drones or cruise missiles managed to reach Israeli airspace but some of the ballistic missiles hit the Nevatim Airbase in southern Israel, causing slight damage, Adm Hagari said in a televised briefing on Sunday.

Explosions were heard in Jerusalem and across Israel as air defence systems struck the weapons.

A seven-year-old girl was in critical condition in the Bedouin area in the Arad region after the attack, Adm Hagari said.

Residents in the Jordanian capital Amman told The National that they heard explosions overhead. In Iraq, thuds were heard in Baghdad and the centre and north of the country. US and British forces said they also struck Iranian projectiles across the region.

Israel closed its airspace at 12.30am amid the attack and reopened it on Sunday morning.

Two Iran-backed militia sources in Iraq told The National that drones were to be fired from Yemen and Syria.

Meanwhile, Lebanon’s Hezbollah group fired dozens of Katyusha rockets into an air and missile defence headquarters situated in the Israel-occupied Golan Heights overnight Sunday morning.

Heavy drone activity was also reported in Iraq, residents in different parts of Iraq told The National.

The drones were heard in the provinces of Basra, Maysan and Nasiriyah in southern Iraq, residents said. They were also heard in Sulaymaniyah province in the north.

Iraq closed its airspace, Razzaq Muhaibas Al-Saadawi, Iraq's Minister of Transport said. Lebanon and Jordan also closed their airspace.

Western condemnation

In Washington, Mr Biden returned to the White House on Saturday, cutting short a weekend visit to Delaware, to speak to his top military and security officials.

“Our commitment to Israel’s security against threats from Iran and its proxies is ironclad,” he said on X.

Mr Biden and Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu spoke on Saturday night, the White House said.

Hundreds of Iranians gathered in Tehran's Palestine Square waving Iranian and Palestinian flags to celebrate the unprecedented military action against Israel.

Shortly before the launches, Mr Netanyahu said Israel was prepared for a “direct attack from Iran”.

EU foreign policy chief Josep Borrell led European reaction to the attack.

“The EU strongly condemns the unacceptable Iranian attack against Israel. This is an unprecedented escalation and a grave threat to regional security,” he said.

UK Prime Minister Rishi Sunak condemned the Iranian regime’s “reckless attack” against Israel.

“These strikes risk inflaming tensions and destabilising the region. Iran has once again demonstrated that it is intent on sowing chaos in its own backyard,” he said.

French Foreign Minister Stephane Sejourne echoed the remarks, saying “Iran is taking a new step in its destabilising actions and taking the risk of a military escalation.”

Tehran warned that should Israel make “another mistake”, the response will be “considerably more severe”, Iran’s mission to the UN said.

“It is a conflict between Iran and the rogue Israeli regime, from which the US must stay away,” the statement read.

It did however offer an off-ramp to the tit-for-tat strikes, saying that its military action would be “deemed concluded” if Israel does not strike back.

Updated: April 14, 2024, 5:37 AM