Israel retaliates against Iran, US officials say

According to US officials, Israel has carried out a retaliatory strike against Iran on Friday morning. Explosions have been reported near a major airbase in Isfahan, central Iran. Iran downplays the incident, stating that a few drones have been successfully shot down and that there was no missile attack.

Early Friday morning, Iran’s air defense systems were activated in several locations after three explosions were heard close to an international airport and major military airbase in the Iranian province of Isfahan. Soon after, US officials stated that Israel was behind the military strike, as retaliation for Iran’s attack with 300 drones and missiles late Saturday. The US was given advance notification, they said, but did not endorse the response.

Isfahan province is home to several nuclear sites but state-aligned Iranian news agencies reported that the sites associated with Iran’s nuclear program did not suffer any damage and are completely secure.

Iran in general downplays the incident, stating that a few drones have been successfully shot down by the country’s air defense and that there are no reports of a missile attack for now. According to a semi-official Iranian news agency, the central city of Isfahan is “completely calm and secure” and “people are going on with their normal lives.” Outgoing flights from several Iranian airports were briefly cancelled or suspended but in the meantime all restrictions have been lifted.

The Israeli military hasn’t yet confirmed that they are behind the attack on Isfahan. But according to US officials, Israeli officials had warned the US government that they would respond within 24 to 48 hours to Irans’s drone and missile attack of last weekend.

Israel’s suspected attack on Isfahan is the latest move in a dangerous escalation in the Middle East. Iran’s strike against Israel last weekend came in response to a suspected Israeli strike on Iran’s consulate in Damascus, Syria, on 1 April.

An Israeli flag flies on the Mount of Olives in Jerusalem © BELGA PHOTO AHMAD GHARABLI / AFP

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