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Israel stages attack in Iran with explosions heard over Isfahan

Iranian commander tells state TV no damage has been caused by strikes
A man walks past a banner depicting missiles along a street in Tehran on 19 April (AFP)
A man walks past a banner depicting missiles along a street in Tehran on 19 April (AFP)

Israel appears to have attacked Iran overnight Thursday, with Iranian state media saying three drones were shot down over the city of Isfahan.

Various media in the United States reported US officials saying “limited” Israeli strikes targeted Iran, and that Washington was notified beforehand.

However, a senior US official told Middle East Eye that Israel blindsided Washington, having promised to wait until after next week's Passover holiday. In Italy's Capri, Secretary of State Antony Blinken said the US was not involved in the operation.

Iranian officials told the New York Times the attack was carried out by small drones, possibly launched from within Iran as its radar systems did not detect them entering the country.

The officials said the drones targeted an air base in the central city of Isfahan and another small group was shot down in Tabriz, 500km to the north.

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One US official told the Washington Post the attack was a signal to Tehran that the Israelis can strike within the country.

Siavosh Mihandoust, a senior Iranian commander, told state TV there had been no damage caused by the attack. The International Atomic Energy Agency also said Iran’s nuclear sites were unharmed.

Israel's government has not commented, though its hawkish far-right national security minister, Itamar Ben Gvir, posted on X: "Feeble!"

On 1 April, an Israeli strike on the Iranian consulate in Damascus killed a senior Republican Guard general and six commanders.

Denouncing the raid on sovereign Iranian soil, Tehran launched hundreds of drones and missiles at Israel on Saturday night, most of which were shot down with the help of the US, Jordan and other countries.

By Friday morning, calm was returning in Iran. All flights were resumed at Iranian airports, and a Revolutionary Guard commander told Reuters there is no immediate plan for retaliation.

Israel blindsided US, said it wouldn't attack Iran until after Passover holiday
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For years, Israel has struck Iranian forces and their allies in Syria, and is believed to have carried out attacks on facilities in Iran as well as assassinated key figures like nuclear scientists. Israeli strikes reportedly targeted air defence systems in southern Syria early Friday morning.

Following the 7 October Hamas-led attack on southern Israeli communities and Israel's war on Gaza, several Iranian-backed groups have also attacked Israel in solidarity with Palestinians under fire in the coastal enclave.

Lebanon's Hezbollah, the Houthi movement of Yemen and Iraqi paramilitaries have all launched rockets and drones at Israel over the past six months. Though voicing its support for Hamas, and being a chief backer of the Palestinian group before the war, Tehran has largely stayed out of the war.

However, the Israeli strike on the Damascus consulate raised fears of the Gaza war spilling out into an even greater regional conflict.

Oman's foreign ministry condemned the latest strike and "the repeated Israeli military attacks in the region" and reiterated its call for a ceasefire in Gaza and a comprehensive settlement for the Palestinians.

Ursula von der Leyen, the European Commission president, said: "It is absolutely necessary that the region remains stable and that all sides restrain from further action."

UN Secretary General Antonio Guterres said that it is "high time" to stop the "dangerous cycle of retaliation".

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