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Iran launches missile and drone attack against Israel

Iran’s Revolutionary Guards confirmed that a drone and missile attack was under way against Israel in retaliation for a deadly 1 April drone strike on its Damascus consulate, with the US pledging to back Israel.

Israel’s military said more than 100 drones, which Iraqi security sources said were seen flying over the country from Iran, would take hours to reach their targets.

Israeli Channel 12 said some had been shot down over Syria or Jordan.

“In response to the numerous crimes committed by the Zionist regime, including the attack on the consular section… the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps fired dozens of missiles and drones at specific targets inside the occupied territories (Israel),” state television quoted a Guards statement as saying.

The aftermath of the alleged Irsaeli strike on an Iranian consulate in Syria which prompted the attack

Operation True Promise is “being carried out with the approval of the Supreme National Security Council under the supervision of the General Staff of the Armed Forces,” the Guards statement said.

Iran’s state news agency cited a source saying its military had also launched a first wave of ballistic missiles against Israel.

Iran has vowed retaliation for what it called an Israeli strike on its Damascus consulate on 1 April that killed seven Guards officers including two senior commanders and said its strike was a punishment for “Israeli crimes”.

Israel has neither confirmed nor denied responsibility for the consulate attack.

US President Joe Biden, who on Friday warned Iran against attacking Israel after saying such a scenario appeared imminent, has pledged to stand with Israel against Iran.

The Gaza war between Israel and Hamas, now in its seventh month, has driven up tensions in the region, spreading to fronts with Lebanon and Syria and drawing long-range fire at Israeli targets from as far away as Yemen and Iraq.

Joe Biden returning to the White House after cutting short a trip to Delaware today

Those clashes now threaten to morph into a direct open conflict pitting Iran and its regional allies against Israel and its main supporter the US.

US and British warplanes were involved in shooting down some Israel-bound drones over the Iraq-Syria border area, Channel 12 reported.

“This is a severe and dangerous escalation. Our defensive and offensive capabilities are at the highest level of readiness ahead of this large-scale attack from Iran,” said Israel’s military spokesperson Daniel Hagari.

Israel’s Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, whose official jet took off shortly after the attack began, convened the war cabinet at a military headquarters in Tel Aviv, his office said.

Footage from social media showing a missile flying over Basra, Iraq

The Israeli military said sirens would sound in any threatened areas and that its defences were poised to deal with the drones, which it said were “explosive”.

Sirens have reportedly been sounded in a kibbutz near the Lebanon border, after Iran launched its attack.

“Sirens sounded in Kibbutz Snir, northern Israel,” the army said in a statement.

“We are used to having around 20 seconds to get to shelters when missiles come in. Here, the warning comes hours ahead of time. It naturally raises the anxiety level among the Israeli public,” said Nir Dvori, a Channel 12 TV correspondent on social media.

People in Iran’s capital Tehran showing support for the retaliation against Israel

Israel also announced last night that it was closing schools nationwide over the security concerns. The measure is set to last two days, according to online army guidelines.

Israel and Lebanon last night said they were closing their airspace.

Jordan, which lies between Iran and Israel, had readied air defences to intercept any drone or missile that violated its territory, two regional security sources said.

Residents in several Jordanian cities said they heard heavy aerial activity.

Syria, an ally of Iran, said it was putting its ground-to-air defence systems around the capital and major bases on high alert, army sources there said.

In Tehran, hundreds of Iranians gathered in Palestine Square, carrying the Iranian flag and that of Lebanon’s Tehran-backed Hezbollah.

“Death to Israel” and “Hezbollah, Hezbollah” the crowds chanted while others held banners saying “God’s victory is near!”

In the southern city of Kerman, crowds gathered near the grave of Guards general Qasem Soleimani, chanting “death to Israel,” according to ISNA news agency.

Mr Soleimani was killed in a US drone strike in Iraq in 2020.

Demonstrations also broke out in other cities including Qom, south of Tehran.

Condemnation

The European Union, Britain, France, Mexico, Czechia, Denmark and the Netherlands all condemned Iran’s attack.

Israel has been bracing for an Iranian response to the Damascus consulate strike since last week, when Iran’s Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei said Israel “must be punished and shall be” for an operation he called equivalent to one on Iranian soil.

Mr Biden said on Friday that his only message to Iran was “Don’t”, but added that “we are devoted to the defence of Israel.”

Iran’s main ally in the region, the Lebanese Shi’ite group Hezbollah that has been exchanging fire with Israel since the Gaza war began on 7 October, said it had fired rockets at an Israeli base.

Video footage of the incident corresponds to known details of the boarding

Yesterday, Iran’s state-run IRNA news agency reported that a Guards helicopter had boarded and taken into Iranian waters the Portuguese-flagged MSC Aries.

MSC, which operates the Aries, confirmed Iran had seized the ship and said it was working “with the relevant authorities” for its safe return and the wellbeing of its 25 crew.

MSC leases the Aries from Gortal Shipping, an affiliate of Zodiac Maritime, Zodiac said in a statement, adding that MSC is responsible for all the vessel’s activities. Zodiac is partly owned by Israeli businessman Eyal Ofer.

Israeli Foreign Minister Israel Katz accused Iran of piracy.

Egypt calls for exercise of the ‘utmost restraint’ – statement

The Egyptian foreign ministry, in a statement, called for the exercise of the “utmost restraint” to spare the region and its people from further factors of instability and tension.

Egypt’s air defences were also on “maximum alert”, Al-Qahera News a TV channel close to the country’s intelligence services, reported.

“A crisis cell … is closely monitoring the situation and submitting reports to President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi hour by hour,” the channel said, citing a senior security official.

France’s Foreign Minister Stephane Sejourne condemned Iran’s drone strikes on Israel as a “new level” in the threat to security.

“France condemns with the greatest firmness the attack launched by Iran against Israel,” he said on the platform X.

“In deciding to take this unprecedented action, Iran has reached a new level of destabilisation and is risking a military escalation,” he added, reiterating France’s commitment to Israel’s security.


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