Three drones downed after explosions heard in Iran’s Isfahan: State media

US media reported Israel launched missile attack on target in Iran, but there has been no official comment from Israel.

Iran’s air defences brought down three small drones over the central city of Isfahan, state media reported, hours after US broadcasters, quoting senior United States officials, said Israeli missiles had hit an Iranian site.

Iranian state television reported explosions in Isfahan as air defences were activated and flights across several areas, including the capital Tehran and Isfahan, were suspended.

Airspace was reopened about four and a half hours after the incident and there were no reports of casualties.

Second Brigadier General Siavash Mihandoust, the top military official in Isfahan, told state media that air defence batteries hit “a suspicious object” and there was no damage.

Earlier, ABC News reported, quoting a senior US official, that Israel had launched missiles at a site in Iran. CBS News also reported that an Israeli attack had taken place.

Iranian media said no strikes were launched on Iran from outside the country, and the attack was believed to have been carried out using small quadcopters that would have to have been launched from inside Iran.

Reporting from Tehran, Al Jazeera’s Dorsa Jabbari said Iranian media was downplaying the incident.

“The location in Isfahan province is an Iranian military airbase that belongs to the country’s army, and not the Revolutionary Guards [Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps, IRGC]. I think it’s important to highlight that,” she said. “This base houses multiple squadrons of F-14 Tomcat fighter aircraft.”

“We also understand that the air defence systems over the city of Tabriz in the northwestern part of Iran were also activated,” Jabbari reported.

A military factory belonging to the Iranian army in Isfahan was attacked by multiple quadcopters in January 2023, failing to damage the facility that was protected by air defence batteries and mesh wiring on its roof to counter small unmanned aerial vehicles.

Iran blamed Israel for that attack and arrested four people, executing one of them in January 2024, for operating on behalf of Mossad, the Israeli spy agency.

Israel had promised to respond after Iran last Saturday launched a barrage of drones and missiles on the country, after a suspected Israeli attack on Iran’s consulate compound in Damascus killed seven people, including two IRGC senior generals.

Isfahan is considered a strategically important city and one that is host to several important sites, including military research and development facilities, as well as bases. The nearby city of Natanz is the location of one of Iran’s nuclear enrichment sites.

‘No damage’ to nuclear facilities

The International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) confirmed that “there is no damage” to Iranian nuclear sites as the United Nations nuclear watchdog’s chief Rafael Grossi called for restraint and said nuclear facilities should never be targeted in military conflicts.

The reported attack “was far more limited than many expected”, Iranian arms control expert Ali Ahmadi told Al Jazeera, adding that Israel “has much more limitations in its operational range” than many think.

“Certainly, after Iran’s retaliatory capacity was criticised, it benefits from advertising how ineffective what Israel did was as well. Iran also needs to prepare the public for a much softer reaction than it has talked about in the last couple of days,” he pointed out.

Ahmadi said that prior to today’s incident, Iran was preparing all sorts of options for massive retaliation, including getting allies involved.

But considering the limited scope and impact of the alleged attack, which he described as a “security sabotage” rather than a “military assault”, it would be a mistake to carry out a massive response, he stressed.

There were also reports of explosions in Iraq and Syria, with Iranian state media saying there were explosions at multiple military-linked sites in Syria.

Syria’s official news agency SANA quoted a military source as saying that missile strikes in the early hours of the morning caused material damage to air defence sites in the country’s southern region. The report did not specify the exact location and the extent of the damage but blamed Israel.

The US and a number of European countries had been calling on Israel not to respond to Iran’s attack. There was no immediate comment from the White House or Pentagon.

On Thursday, UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres painted a dark picture of the situation in the Middle East, warning that spiralling tensions over Israel’s war on Gaza and Iran’s attack on Israel could descend into a “full-scale regional conflict”.

“The Middle East is on a precipice. Recent days have seen a perilous escalation – in words and deeds,” Guterres told the UN Security Council.

“One miscalculation, one miscommunication, one mistake, could lead to the unthinkable – a full-scale regional conflict that would be devastating for all involved,” he said, calling on all parties to exercise “maximum restraint”.

 Source: AlJazeera

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