top of page

Source: NY Times

Jan 29, 2023

The government did not say who was behind the attempted attack, but some Telegram channels affiliated with Iran’s Revolutionary Guards pointed the finger at Israel.

Iran’s defense ministry said that it had thwarted an attack Saturday on one of its munition centers in the central city of Isfahan by shooting down three drones.

In a statement, the ministry said the attempted attack occurred around 11:30 p.m local time with quadcopter drones and it reported no casualties. It said the facility’s roof had sustained minor damage.

Video footage posted on social media by witnesses showed a large explosion erupting in the night sky above the military facility, which is located on a major road in northern Isfahan. A man standing on the side of the road as traffic whizzed by is heard on the video saying antiaircraft missiles were fired before an explosion was heard. “It’s a drone, it’s a drone,” he said of the target.

State television said the authorities were investigating what was behind the attempted attack on the munitions center and the extent of the damage.

But some Telegram channels, including that of Sepah Cyberi, which is affiliated with Iran’s Revolutionary Guards Corps, accused Israel and its agents inside the county of being behind the attack and warned “experience has shown that Iran will retaliate.”

“Wait for rogue drones hitting Zionist oil tankers,” its posting said.

Iran and Israel have been engaged in a shadow war on land, sea, air and in cyberspace for the past three years, with Israel carrying out strikes on Iranian military and nuclear facilities and assassinating scientists and a senior military official.

Iran has retaliated by targeting Israeli-owned ships with drones in the Persian Gulf and in the Red Sea and by firing ballistic missiles into Kurdish northern Iraq where, it said, Israel planned and carried out a drone attack on an Iranian drone factory in March 2022.

In its statement after Saturday’s attack, the defense ministry said “such blind-sighted attacks will have no bearing on the country’s development.”

Local media said the attack involved three quadcopter suicide drones, and it was similar to a strike carried out against a nuclear centrifuge factory belonging to Iran’s Atomic Agency in June 2021 and one carried out against a Hezbollah facility in Beirut in August 2019. The latter attack destroyed what Israeli officials described as machinery vital to Hezbollah’s missile production efforts.

Quadcopter drones have a short flight range and in Saturday’s attack they were believed to have taken off from inside Iran. The origin of the drones involved in Saturday’s attack was not yet clear but because of Isfahan’s distance from Iran’s international borders the attack was also likely organized from inside Iran.

Farnaz Fassihi is a reporter for The New York Times based in New York. Previously she was a senior writer and war correspondent for the Wall Street Journal for 17 years based in the Middle East. @farnazfassihi

bottom of page