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Iranian President Raisi warns 'massive response' to Israel's 'tiniest invasion' as rivalries deepen

Iran launched 300 missiles and drones in retaliation for an airstrike on its embassy compound in Damascus on April 1, that killed 12 including a military commander. The world is now on edge for a possible Israeli retaliation that is certain to escalate into a wider conflict in the Middle East.

Edited By: Aveek Banerjee @AveekABanerjee Tehran Published on: April 17, 2024 20:52 IST
Iran Israel conflict, Ebraham Raisi
Image Source : AP (FILE) Iranian President Ebraham Raisi

Tehran: Iranian President Ebraham Raisi on Wednesday warned that Israel's "tiniest invasion" in retaliation to a barrage of missile and drone attacks launched by Tehran on Saturday would be met with a "massive and harsh" response as the Middle East region now braces for a potential Israeli response amid boiling tensions. Iran launched an unprecedented attack with 300 missiles and drones on Israel following a suspected Israeli airstrike on the Iranian embassy in Syria.

Raisi on Wednesday said Iran's attack was a limited one, and that if Tehran had wanted to carry out a bigger attack, “nothing would remain from the Zionist regime", according to the state-controlled IRNA news agency. Israel has vowed to respond, without saying when or how, while its allies have urged all sides to avoid further escalation.

Raisi spoke at an annual army parade that was relocated to a barracks north of the capital, Tehran, from its usual venue on a highway in the city's southern outskirts. Israel, with help from the United States, the United Kingdom, neighbouring Jordan and other nations, successfully intercepted nearly all the missiles and drones.

Israel to retaliate against Iran: UK Foreign Minister

Meanwhile, British Foreign Minister David Cameron said that Israel has "clearly decided" to retaliate against Iran for the missile and drone attacks launched last week - despite international concern rising to a boiling point as a wider conflict threatens to break out in the Middle East following a suspected Israeli strike on Iran's embassy in Syria on April 1. Cameron's statement is the sharpest warning of the escalation of tensions after Iran directly attacked Israel for the first time in decades.

More than six months into a war between Israel and the Iran-backed Palestinian militant group Hamas that has seen flare-ups in violence across the Middle East and killed tens of thousands of people in Gaza, diplomats are searching for a way to avert a direct battle between Israel and Iran. These efforts were thrown in disarray when Iran launched at least 300 missiles and drones towards Israel on Saturday, in response to the attack in Syria.

"It's clear the Israelis are making a decision to act. We hope they do so in a way that does as little to escalate this as possible," Cameron told reporters early in his visit to Jerusalem. Cameron said Britain wanted to see coordinated sanctions against Iran by the Group of Seven big democracies, which are meeting this week in Italy. 

US, allies to impose fresh sanctions on Iran

In the midst of escalating tensions, the US and its allies have planned fresh sanctions against Iran over its unprecedented attack on Israel, seeking to dissuade Israel from a major escalation as its war cabinet was set to meet for a third time on Wednesday to decide a response. Israel's military chief of staff Herzi Halevi had promised Iran's launch of more than 300 missiles, cruise missiles and drones at Israeli territory "will be met with a response".

Earlier, US Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen said the United States would use sanctions, and work with allies, to keep disrupting Iran's "malign and destabilising activity". European Union foreign policy chief Josep Borrell, after an emergency video conference of EU foreign ministers, said some member states had asked for sanctions against Iran to be expanded.

Borrell said the proposal would expand a sanctions regime that seeks to curb the supply of Iranian drones to Russia so that it would also include the provision of missiles and could also cover deliveries to Iranian proxies in the Middle East. Israeli Foreign Minister Israel Katz said he was "leading a diplomatic attack", writing to 32 countries to ask them to place sanctions on Iran's missile programme and follow Washington in proscribing its dominant military force, the Revolutionary Guard Corps, as a terrorist group.

Iran launched the attack in retaliation for an airstrike on its embassy compound in Damascus on April 1, that killed 12 including a military commander, attributed to Israel but has signalled that it now deems the matter closed. However, Tehran warned it could again target Israel if the US and allied nations provoke any aggression. US President Joe Biden told Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu at the weekend that the United States, Israel's main protector, would not participate in an Israeli counter-strike.

(with inputs from agencies)

ALSO READ | Israel will retaliate against Iran, says UK Foreign Minister; PM Sunak urges restraint amid tensions

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