Israel Reportedly Strikes Iran Overnight, Tehran Downplays the Attack

On Friday, a commander in Iran's military said Iran's air defense systems fired at a suspicious object over the Iranian city of Isfahan that caused no damage. The Iranian commander's announcement came shortly after Israel reportedly conducted a retaliatory airstrike on Iran, early Friday morning.

Israel appears to have launched a retaliation attack on Iran early Friday morning, nearly a week after the Islamic nation launched a combination of more than 300 missiles and drones against it.

Explosions were reported near the Iranian city of Isfahan, which plays an important role in Iran’s nuclear program, and air defenses were triggered across the country.

However, Iranian officials downplayed the attack and did not directly acknowledge the reports that Israel attacked. Gen. Abdolrahim Mousavi said that “the explosion this morning in the sky of Isfahan was related to the shooting of air defense systems at a suspicious object that did not cause any damage,” according to the Associated Press.

One reporter from Iran’s Tasnim news agency recorded a video of active anti-aircraft gun positions near the region’s “nuclear energy mountain.” He reported hearing gunshots at 4:45 a.m. local time.

At around 4:30 a.m. local time, Dubai-based passenger airlines Emirates and FlyDubai started to divert flights around western Iran, offering no explanation. Iran then grounded commercial flights at Imam Khomeini International Airport and across its western and central regions.

At the same time, explosions were reported in Iraq, near Baghdad, and Syria.

Syrian military released a statement saying Israel carried out military strikes on an air defense unit in the south, causing damage, according to state-run SANA news agency.

Israel has not confirmed whether it launched an attack. The Epoch Times has contacted Israel’s military for comment.

Several American politicians took the opportunity to reiterate their position. Senator Marco Rubio (R–Fla.), who co-chairs the Senate Committee on Intelligence and is a member of the Senate Committee on Foreign Relations, said on X last night, “Israel has the ability to conduct strikes against targets inside Iran without entering Iranian air space from aircraft over Syrian and Iraqi airspace.”

The alleged Israeli attacks unfold against the backdrop of heightened tensions in the Middle East following Iran’s unprecedented missile-and-drone attack on Israel on April 13.

Blinken Downplays the Attacks

U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken also downplayed the attacks during a press conference on April 19 in Capri, Italy, where he met his Group of Seven (G-7) counterparts. He did not directly acknowledge the Israeli strikes against Iran overnight, calling them “reported events.”

“I’m not going to speak to these reported events. All I can say is that for our part and for the entire G-7, our focus has been on de-escalation, on avoiding a larger conflict,” he told reporters when asked about the attacks.

“The United States has not been involved in any offensive operations,” he added.

The United States also informed the G-7 foreign ministers during a Friday morning session at the gathering in Capri that it had received notice from Israel regarding the attack in Iran, according to Italy’s foreign minister Antonio Tajani.

Mr. Tajani told reporters that the U.S. officials told the G-7 ministers that Israel had informed them “at the last minute” about the drones.

“But there was no sharing of the attack by the U.S. It was a mere information,” he said.

On April 18, the United States announced additional sanctions and export controls on Iran, targeting its drone programs and steel industry.

“G-7 countries will adopt additional sanctions or other measures in the days ahead,” Mr. Blinken said during the press conference.

The sanctions came after Iran launched more than 300 munitions, including ballistic missiles, land attack cruise missiles, and one-way attack drones toward Israel on April 13. Tehran said it was in response to what it claimed was an Israeli strike on its embassy compound in Syria in early April. The attack marked the first time that Tehran has launched a direct military assault on Israel. Israel did not claim responsibility for that strike.

Since Israel was able to successfully defeat Iran’s unprecedented assault on Israeli territory, President Biden and his team told the Israeli government not to pursue any further escalation.

Israel, with the support of the United States, the UK, France, and other partners, successfully intercepted 99 percent of the projectiles fired by Iran. There has been almost no damage to Israel’s infrastructure, as confirmed by both U.S. and Israeli officials.

President Biden warned Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu that he would not support retaliatory action against Iran during a phone call on April 13.

Since then, the White House has made it clear that the United States would not participate in any offensive action against Iran.

The coordinated strikes come as the Biden administration is reportedly considering a new weapons deal for Israel, which would feature more than $1 billion in supplies, such as military vehicles and tank ammunition.

This potential deal, however, would be in addition to the current aid deal being considered in Congress and is under initial review. If approved, it is expected to take years before moving forward.

“I think it’s safe to say there is an ongoing regional war,” Simone Ledeen, a senior fellow at the Strauss Center and former Deputy Assistant Secretary of Defense for Middle East Policy, told The Epoch Times.

“The U.S. should be providing Israel everything it needs to win this war. This is in our own national security interest. Iran cannot be permitted to continue to sow its violence across the region—it has cost us significant blood and treasure over the years, and left unchecked, will continue to do so.”

Andrew Thornebrooke contributed to this report.

From The Epoch Times

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