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Source: Politico

Apr 13, 2024

Iran launches drone attack against Israel

The long-anticipated attack comes after Israel last week killed a senior officer in Iran’s embassy in Damascus


Iranian missiles landed in Israel Saturday as part of a major aerial attack against Israel, marking a dangerous new escalation in the region that risks deadly clashes between Israel and Iran.

It was not immediately clear what damage the initial attack had caused or how Israel would respond. Social media posts show Israel’s Iron Dome intercepting a barrage of missiles, though some appear to have broken through.

Missile fragments also landed in Jordan.

The Israeli Defense Forces said earlier Saturday that it had confirmed drones headed to Israel from Iran — and that it expected them to take several hours to reach their targets. Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps said in a statement that it had launched drones and missiles at Israel.

The long-anticipated attack comes after an apparent Israeli airstrike on Iran’s consulate in Damascus killed a senior Iranian officer. Iran said Saturday’s strike was in response to that attack.

U.S. and Israeli officials have been bracing for a retaliatory strike by Tehran that could ignite a larger conflict in the region that has been roiled by the fighting between Israel and Hamas in Gaza. U.S. forces in Syria and Iraq have already been attacked around 170 times in recent months by Iranian-backed militias, though that back and forth has eased in recent weeks after the U.S. bombed 85 targets in February that housed the militants.

Israel had already closed schools, banned large gatherings and closed its air space earlier Saturday. Jordan has also closed its airspace.

“The defense and offense systems of the Israeli Air Force are on alert, and dozens of planes are in the skies — prepared and ready. We are conducting a situational assessment with our strategic partners, primarily the U.S., and maintaining tight coordination with them,” said IDF spokesperson Daniel Hagari.

U.S. officials have for days conferred with their counterparts in Israel about the impending attack. Gen. Michael Kurilla, head of U.S. Central Command, visited Israel last week to help prepare for the assault. And national security adviser Jake Sullivan spoke with Israel National Security Adviser Tzachi Hanegbi Saturday morning.

The White House said President Joe Biden cut short a weekend vacation on Saturday to come back to Washington to meet with principals of the National Security Council in the situation room.

“This attack is likely to unfold over a number of hours,” National Security Council spokesperson Adrienne Watson said in a statement. “President Biden has been clear: our support for Israel’s security is ironclad. The United States will stand with the people of Israel and support their defense against these threats from Iran.”

American warplanes have targeted Iranian proxies across Syria, Iraq and Yemen in recent months in response to attacks on American forces in the Middle East, and the U.S. has several warships in the region that are capable of both tracking drones and missiles and shooting them down.

Two destroyers and a cruiser are currently in the Red Sea, where they have been shooting down drones and ballistic missiles launched by Houthi forces in Yemen toward commercial shipping.

The U.S. has also beefed up ground-based air defenses in Iraq and Jordan in recent months, though one U.S. official who requested anonymity to speak about ongoing operations said that ‘indications are that [Iran] is not going to come after us, they’re focused on Israel.”

British Prime Minister Rishi Sunak says he condemns Iran’s “reckless” attack against Israel, and “Iran has once again demonstrated that it is intent on sowing chaos in its own backyard.

The U.K. will continue to stand up for Israel’s security and that of all our regional partners, including Jordan and Iraq.”

Sen. Roger Wicker, (R-Miss.), the highest-ranking Republican on the U.S. Senate Armed Services Committee, said in a statement that “this is the moment for the United States to show we stand together with our allies.

Our shared enemies, including Iran and their proxies, need to know our commitment is unwavering. We must join with Israel to ensure that Iran’s aggression is met with resolute action and resounding strength.”

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