Iran launches retaliatory strikes toward Israel

Iran launches retaliatory strikes toward Israel


Iran has launched a wave of retaliatory strikes toward Israel, fueling fears of regional escalation following an apparent Israeli attack on an Iranian embassy complex in Syria last week.

Several dozen drones were launched from within Iran on Saturday, a senior US administration official told CNN, while an Israeli military officer put the number at “more than 100.” Iran state media confirmed that the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) had “launched extensive drone strikes against targets in occupied territories,” referring to Israel.

Missiles have also been launched, according to Israeli and Iranian media.

The attack is expected to take “a number of hours to arrive in Israel,” Israel Defense Forces spokesperson Daniel Hagari said late on Saturday local time, asking Israelis to be “vigilant.”

Public shelters have been opened in the northern Israeli city of Haifa and Israel’s transportation ministry has said it will close its airspace at 12:30 a.m. local time. Nearby Jordan and Iraq have also announced the temporary closure of their airspace.

US President Joe Biden is meeting with his national security team to assess the attack, according to a US official.

The US National Security Council spokesperson Adrienne Watson said Saturday that Biden is “in constant communication with Israeli officials as well as other partners and allies,” and reaffirmed his position that the administration’s “support for Israel’s security is ironclad.”

Retaliation for strike on embassy complex

Fears that Israel’s war in Gaza could spiral into a wider regional conflict have been been rising since Iran accused Israel of bombing its embassy complex in Syria earlier this month.

The airstrike destroyed the consulate building in the capital Damascus, killing at least seven officials including Mohammed Reza Zahedi, a top commander in Iran’s elite Revolutionary Guards (IRGC), and senior commander Mohammad Hadi Haji Rahimi, Iran’s foreign ministry said at the time.

Zahedi, a former commander of the IRGC’s ground forces, air force, and the deputy commander of its operations, was the most high-profile Iranian target killed since then-US President Donald Trump ordered the assassination of IRGC Gen. Qassem Soleimani in Baghdad in 2020.

Iran Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei said Israel would be punished for the attack, while President Ebrahim Raisi said it would “not go unanswered,” state news agency IRNA reported. The Iran-backed Lebanese militant group Hezbollah said the strike would be met with “punishment and revenge.”

Israel has not publicly acknowledged responsibility for the strike but said it believed the building struck was a “military building of Quds forces” — a unit of the IRGC responsible for foreign operations.

The US has warned for several days of a “real,” “credible” and “viable” threat of Iranian retaliatory strikes against Israel. Senior US officials said after the strike that they believed an attack by Iran was “inevitable” – a view shared by their Israeli counterparts, that official said.

As part of its response, the US sent Central Command chief Gen. Michael Kurilla to Israel for talks with Israeli military counterparts and on Friday a defense official told CNN the Pentagon was moving additional assets to the Middle East “to bolster regional deterrence efforts and increase force protection for US forces.”

Israel is prepared for a “direct attack by Iran,” Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said in a statement Saturday evening.

“Our defensive systems are deployed; we are ready for any scenario, both defensively and offensively. The state of Israel is strong. The IDF is strong. The public is strong,” he said.

“We have determined a clear principle: Whoever harms us, we will harm them. We will defend ourselves against any threat and will do so level-headedly and with determination,” Netanyahu said.


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