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Iran warns of bigger attack if Israel retaliates after overnight strikes

More than 300 drones and missiles launched by Iran towards Israel, in first ever direct attack on Israeli territory
Demonstrators wave Iranian and Palestinian flags as they gather in front of the British Embassy in Tehran on 14 April 2024, after Iran launched a drone and missile attack on Israel (AFP)

Iran on Sunday warned that it would launch a more severe attack if Israel retaliates against overnight drone and missile strikes, as Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu vowed victory.

"Our response will be much larger than tonight's military action if Israel retaliates against Iran," armed forces chief of staff Major General Mohammad Bagheri told state TV.

Bagheri added that Iran has warned Washington against backing any Israeli retaliation or risk its bases in the region being targeted.

Iran launched an unprecedented attack on Israel overnight, with more than 300 drones and missiles fired towards Israeli territory, in response to Israeli strikes on its consular building in Syria earlier this month that killed seven of Iran's Revolutionary Guard officers, including two senior commanders.

Bagheri said that Iran had no more plans to attack Israel and considered its response to the attack on its Damascus consulate to have concluded.

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Foreign Minister Hossein Amirabdollahian said Iran informed Washington that its attacks against Israel would be "limited" and for self-defence 

"At this point, the Islamic Republic of Iran has no intention of continuing defensive operations, but if necessary, it will not hesitate to protect its legitimate interests against any new aggression," Amirabdollahian wrote on X.

Netanyahu vowed that his country would achieve victory after the military said it and its allies had thwarted 99 percent of the Iranian drones and missiles.

Israel said it was discussing follow-up options with its allies.

"We intercepted, we repelled, together we shall win," Netanyahu posted on X.

Israeli Defence Minister Yoav Gallant said that, despite thwarting the attack, the military campaign was not over and Israel must prepare for every scenario.

Gantz said Israel will build a regional coalition and exact a price from Iran when the time is "right".

Israel's Channel 12 TV cited an unnamed Israeli official overnight as saying there would be a "significant response" to the attack as Netanyahu met his war cabinet.

Security council to meet

Israel's chief military spokesperson, Rear Admiral Daniel Hagari, said Iran launched dozens of ground-to-ground missiles at Israel, including more than 10 cruise missiles, and most were intercepted outside Israeli borders.

Hagari said that none of the drones reached Israel and Israeli air force shot down 25 cruise missiles, none of which entered the country's airspace.

He said most of the ballistic missiles were also intercepted, but some penetrated Israeli defences and hit the Nevatim Airbase in southern Israel. 

Shahed "suicide" drones and missiles were seen flying over Iraq, and sources in Amman, Beirut and Damascus reported hearing explosions overhead. US, UK and Jordanian fighter jets intercepted several drones and missiles between Iran and Israel.

Lebanon's Hezbollah, Iran's most powerful ally in the region, fired rockets at an Israeli base overnight. Israel said it struck a Hezbollah site deep inside Lebanon on Sunday morning.

Iran's Fars news agency quoted a source as saying Tehran was closely watching Jordan, which might become the next target in case of any moves in support of Israel.

Saturday's attack is the first time Iran has ever struck at Israel directly. It continued over several hours.

The UN Security Council is expected to meet on Sunday after Israel requested it condemn Iran's attack and designate Iran's Revolutionary Guard a terrorist organisation.

Meanwhile, US President Joe Biden 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.

Secretary of State Antony Blinken said on Sunday that the US does "not seek escalation" and would hold talks with its allies in the coming days.

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