White House denies reports Iran warned US of planned attack on Israel

National Security spokesman Kirby says claims by Tehran of advanced warning 'categorically false'

President Joe Biden meets members of his National Security team during Iran's missile and drone attacks on Israel. AP
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The White House on Monday said that Iran did not provide advance warnings or intended targets before its missile and drone attack on Israel at the weekend.

White House National Security spokesman John Kirby said reports that Iran had provided early warnings to help Israel prepare its defences and limit damage were “categorically false”.

“Given the scale of this attack, Iran's intent was clearly to cause significant disruption and Iran's leaders fired so many missiles and other munitions because they knew that some would be defeated,” Mr Kirby told reporters.

“The aim was to get as many of them through Israel's defences as possible.

“This whole narrative out there that Iran passed us a message about what they were going to do is ridiculous.”

He also called the attack a “spectacular and embarrassing failure”.

Iran launched the attack on Israel on Saturday, but the vast majority of the drones and missiles fired were intercepted by Israeli and allied air defence systems in the region.

It caused little damage in Israel, although a girl was reportedly wounded by shrapnel.

Iran launches drone attack on Israel

Iran launches drone attack on Israel

On Sunday, international media outlets, quoting Turkish, Jordanian and Iraqi officials, reported that Iran had given notice of the attack days in advance.

But Mr Kirby said Tehran had not informed Washington, and the attack was defeated thanks to the preparation and the co-ordinated response of the US and allied nations.

“Israel today is in a far stronger strategic position than it was only a few days ago,” he said.

Israel has threatened to respond to Iran's attack, fuelling more concerns of a widened regional conflict.

US President Joe Biden, who is running for re-election in November, has been trying to prevent the Israel-Gaza war, which began on October 7, from spreading across the region.

Mr Kirby said the Biden administration would not be involved in any Israeli response.

“This is an Israeli decision to make," he said. "Whether and how they'll respond around this attack on Saturday and when would be squarely with them."

Iran's attack on Israel – in pictures

Updated: April 16, 2024, 3:12 AM