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  4. Iran says it has shot down several drones over Isfahan, US officials warned by Israel prior to strike

Iran says it has shot down several drones over Isfahan, US officials warned by Israel prior to strike

Iran's state-run media reported that three drones spotted over Isfahan city were shot down by the country's air defence systems. An Iranian official also said there was no missile attack and the explosions heard in Isfahan were the result of the activation of the missile defences.

Edited By: Aveek Banerjee @AveekABanerjee Tehran Updated on: April 19, 2024 11:14 IST
Iran Israel conflict, drones shot down
Image Source : AP Iran has warned a "massive response" to Israel's attack.

Tehran: In a massive flareup of tensions in the Middle East, Israel launched a retaliatory strike at Iran in response to Tehran's unprecedented missile and drone attack on Saturday. Iran has claimed to have shot down several drones after activating its air defence system over several cities as explosions were heard in central Isfahan city, while claiming that there was no missile attack.

Three people familiar with the matter said Israel has attacked Iran as Iranian state media reported early on Friday that its forces had destroyed drones. US sources said Washington was not involved but was notified by Israel on Thursday before the attack. An Iranian official told Reuters there was no missile attack and the explosions were the result of the activation of Iran's air defence systems.

Iranian state TV said that shortly after midnight "three drones were observed in the sky over Isfahan. The air defence system became active and destroyed these drones in the sky". Iran's space agency spokesperson Hossein Dalirian on X said several drones "have been successfully shot down by the country's air defence" and there was no report about a missile attack.

No damage was caused in the overnight attack, a senior commander of Iran's Army Siavosh Mihandoust said on Friday, adding that the noise heard overnight in Isfahan was due to air defence systems targeting a "suspicious object". Meanwhile, British security firm Ambrey said on Friday merchant vessels transiting "the Arabian Gulf and Western Indian Ocean" were advised to stay alert in case of increased uncrewed aerial vehicle (UAV) activity in the region.

According to CNN, Israeli officials warned the Biden administration on Thursday that the strike would take place in the next 24 to 48 hours and assured that Iran's nuclear facilities would not be targeted. However, several Iranian nuclear sites are located in Isfahan province, including Natanz, centrepiece of Iran’s uranium enrichment program. State television described all sites in the area as “fully safe”.

What is the situation in Iran?

Though the damage of the Israeli attack has not been confirmed as of now, Iran had to suspend and divert several flights in several cities. Tehran's Imam Khomeini International Airport was closed to all flights until 0700 GMT, according to a notice to airmen posted on a US Federal Aviation Administration database. Iran's state television said nuclear facilities where Iran has been conducting work - which Tehran says is peaceful but which the West believes is aimed at building a weapon - were unharmed.

Tensions have been high in the Middle East since Iran's missile and drone attack on Israel and observers have raised concerns about the risks of the Israel-Hamas war i Gaza spreading into the rest of the region. Israel's assault on Gaza began after Palestinian Islamist group Hamas attacked Israel on October 7, killing 1,200, according to Israeli tallies. Israel's military offensive has killed nearly 34,000 Palestinians in Gaza, according to the local health ministry.

However, Iran's state television said nuclear facilities where Iran has been conducting work - which Tehran says is peaceful but which the West believes is aimed at building a weapon - were unharmed. It was speculated that Israel would target Iran's nuclear facilities if it came to a direct attack, as it has previously attempted to do so in the decades of shadow war between the two adversaries.

Asian shares and bond yields sank on Friday while safe-haven currencies, gold and crude oil jumped. Brent crude futures rose 2 per cent to $88.86 a barrel, the dollar gained broadly, gold rose 1 per cent and S&P 500 futures dropped 1 per cent. Iranian President Ebrahim Raisi had warned Israel before Friday's strike that Tehran would deliver a "severe response" to any attack on its territory. 

Iran warns of 'decisive response' to Israeli attack

On Thursday, Iran told the United Nations Security Council that Israel "must be compelled to stop any further military adventurism against our interests" as the UN secretary-general warned earlier that the Middle East was in a moment of maximum peril. Israel has said it will retaliate against Iran's April 13 missile and drone attack, which Tehran says was carried out in response to a suspected Israeli strike on its embassy compound in Damascus earlier this month.

"In case of any use of force by the Israeli regime and violating our sovereignty, the Islamic Republic of Iran will not hesitate a bit to assert its inherent rights to give a decisive and proper response to it to make the regime regret its actions," said Iran's Foreign Minister Hossein Amirabdollahian at the UN Security Council. Meanwhile, an Iranian Revolutionary Guards commander said earlier on Thursday that Iran could review its "nuclear doctrine" following Israeli threats.

(with inputs from agencies)

ALSO READ | 'No missile attack on Iran': Tehran says explosion in Isfahan due to activation of its air defence

 

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