What we know about Israel's attack on Iran's Isfahan

Iranian air defence batteries are activated after reports of explosions near major airbase

Missiles are launched during a military drill in Nasr Abad, Isfahan province, central Iran, near the scene of a reported Israeli strike early on Friday. EPA
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Air defence systems in the Iranian city of Isfahan were activated overnight against a suspected drone attack, with three explosions heard near an army base north-west of the city, Iranian state media reported on Friday.

Air defences also fired at a suspicious flying object near the city of Tabriz, about 500km north of Isfahan, the reports said.

US officials confirmed Israel had carried out military operations against Iran in retaliation for the April 13 barrage of hundreds of missiles and drones that Tehran fired at Israel.

There was no official comment from Israel but its leaders had vowed to respond to Iran's attack.

Also on Friday, Syrian state media reported Israel had fired missiles at military targets in the country's south at about 3am, causing "material damage".

The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, a Britain-based war monitor, said the strike hit a military radar for government forces.

What has Iran said about the attack?

A source told Iran's Mehr News Agency the explosions heard over Isfahan were caused by the destruction of three "micro air vehicles". There is no information about these vehicles yet and a search for the wreckage is under way, the source said.

Hossein Dalirian, a spokesman for Iran's civilian space programme, said on X that several small quadcopter drones had been shot down.

State TV reported “several small drones were flying in the sky over Isfahan, which were fired at”. However, it is not clear whether the drones were launched from outside or within the country.

Iran's Press TV quoted sources denying reports of a "foreign attack on Iranian cities, including Isfahan", in a report on Friday morning.

Was any damage caused?

A senior Iranian Army commander, Siavosh Mihandoust, said there was no damage from the attack, state TV reported. The blasts heard overnight in Isfahan were from air defence systems targeting a "suspicious object".

The International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) has confirmed there was no damage to Iran’s nuclear sites.

IAEA chief Rafael Grossi "continues to call for extreme restraint from everybody and reiterates that nuclear facilities should never be a target in military conflicts", the agency said on X.

Isfahan is home to sites associated with Iran’s nuclear programme, including its underground Natanz enrichment site. State TV described all sites in the area as “fully safe”.

The site at Isfahan operates three small Chinese-supplied research reactors, as well as handling fuel production and other activities for Iran's civilian nuclear programme.

Airports in the cities of Tehran, Isfahan and Shiraz were closed for a few hours after the reported attack, and flights diverted from the western portion of Iran's airspace.

The UK Maritime Trade Operations association warned ships in the region of increased drone activity in the skies. “There are currently no indications commercial vessels are the intended target,” it said on X.

What has Israel said?

Israel's military told AFP "we don't have a comment at this time" when asked about reports of explosions and strikes in Iran and Syria.

Israel is believed to have carried out repeated air strikes on Iran-linked targets in Syria, an ally of Tehran, including an attack on the Iranian consulate in Damascus on April 1 that led to the April 13 attack by Iran. However, it rarely acknowledges these attacks.

What happens next?

There was no immediate indication of an Iranian response to the reported Israeli attack, which came amid heightened regional tensions created by Israel's devastating war on Gaza.

Most reports of the incident in Iranian media made no mention of Israel, suggesting Iran was not seeking to use it as a basis for launching another another retaliation. The country’s Supreme National Security Council decided against convening for an emergency meeting, state TV reported.

Iranian officials have repeatedly warned that Israel would face an even heavier response if it chose to retaliate against the April 13 attack, which they indicated was not intended to cause deaths or heavy damage.

The war in Gaza, triggered by a deadly raid in southern Israel in early October by Hamas, an Iranian ally, has prompted other Tehran-backed groups in Lebanon, Yemen and Iraq to launch attacks on targets linked to Israel and its main ally, the US.

The UN, Israel's allies and countries in the region had called on Israel to show restraint after Iran's drone and missile attack to avoid sparking a regional conflict.

Updated: April 19, 2024, 4:32 PM