What we know so far about Israel’s strike on Iran

Jonathan Yerushalmy

US officials have confirmed that Israel has carried out military operations against Iran. The officials said Israel warned the Biden administration earlier on Thursday that a strike was coming in the next 24 to 48 hours. According to CNN, the Israelis assured their US counterparts that Iran’s nuclear facilities would not be targeted.

Iranian state media reported that air defence batteries had been activated after reports of explosions near a major airbase close to the city of Isfahan. The Iranian government appeared to play down the scale of the attack, with a senior commander in Iran’s army saying there was no damage in Isfahan, according to state TV.

Isfahan is home to sites associated with Iran’s nuclear program, including its underground Natanz enrichment site. State television described all sites in the area as “fully safe” and the UN nuclear watchdog, the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), confirmed there was no damage to any nuclear sites.

The airbase close to Isfahan has long been home to Iran’s fleet of American-made F-14 Tomcats – purchased before the 1979 Islamic revolution.

Airports in Tehran, Shiraz and Isfahan were closed and flights have been cleared from the western half of Iran, flight tracking website FlightRadar24 reported.

Local warnings to aviators suggested the airspace may have been closed. At 8am local time some airports lifted restrictions, local media in Iran reported.

Although UAE based FlyDubai cancelled all flight to Iran’s capital on Friday.

Tensions across the region remain high after Iran launched hundreds of drones as well as cruise missiles towards Israel on Saturday, in the Islamic Republic’s first ever direct attack on the Jewish state, in response to the 1 April strike on an Iranian diplomatic building in the Syrian capital, Damascus, which killed a senior figure in Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guards and eight other officers.

On Thursday, Iran’s foreign minister told CNN that if Israel chooses to retaliate, Tehran’s response would be immediate. “If the Israeli regime commits the great error once again our response will be decisive, definitive and regretful for them,” Hossein Amir-Abdollahian said.

However, a senior Iranian official told Reuters on Friday that Iran has no plan for immediate retaliation against Israel. “The foreign source of the incident has not been confirmed. We have not received any external attack, and the discussion leans more towards infiltration than attack,” the Iranian official said on condition of anonymity.

(Source: The Guardian)