Israel launches attack on Iran, US officials say

Iran has reportedly said it has no plans for an immediate retaliation to the reported overnight attack

US officials have reportedly said Israel has carried out military operations against Iran in the early hours of Friday morning. (Getty)
US officials have reportedly said Israel has carried out military operations against Iran in the early hours of Friday morning. (Getty)

Israel is reported to have launched a single strike against Iran in the early hours of Friday morning in the latest escalation of tensions between the two states.

US officials originally said that an Israeli missile struck Iran in the city of Isfahan in central Iran overnight, while Iranian media also reported explosions.

However, Iran later claimed there were no explosions on the ground with officials quoted by Iranian state media stated that air defences close to Isfahan airport had shot down drones.

In a statement, a spokesperson for UN secretary general António Guterres said: "The secretary general reiterates that it is high time to stop the dangerous cycle of retaliation in the Middle East."

The statement added that the secretary general "condemns any act of retaliation and appeals to the international community to work together to prevent any further development that could lead to devastating consequences for the entire region and beyond."

According to reports, US officials said the administration had been warned by Israel on Thursday that a strike was coming, along with reassurance that Iran’s nuclear facilities would not be targeted.

Iran's state television said nuclear facilities in Isfahan where Iran has been conducting work - which Tehran says is peaceful but which the West believes is aimed at building a weapon - were unharmed.

The limited scale of the attack and Iran's muted response appeared to signal a successful effort by diplomats who have been working to avert all-out war since an Iranian drone and missile attack on Israel on Saturday.

A senior Iranian official told Reuters there were no plans to respond against Israel for the incident.

"The foreign source of the incident has not been confirmed. We have not received any external attack, and the discussion leans more towards infiltration than attack," the official said.

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  • Muted Iran signals it will not retaliate against Israel

    Iran has signalled it has no plans to retaliate after it was attacked by Israel as it played down the strikes launched against it on Friday.

    The muted response to the limited Israeli attack is being seen as an effort by Iran to prevent tensions escalating into a full-blown regional conflict.

    The Israeli strikes came after Benjamin Netanyahu was urged to show restraint by Western allies, including the US, after Iran launched its first ever direct attack on Israel last Saturday.

    Read the full story from The Telegraph.

  • Shipping industry urges UN to protect vessels after Iran seizure

    Merchant ships and seafarers are increasingly in peril at sea as attacks escalate in the Middle East and the United Nations must do more to protect supply chains, the industry said in a letter released on Friday.

    Tensions have soared across the Middle East since the start of Israel's campaign in Gaza in October, with Israel or its ally the United States clashing repeatedly with Iranian-aligned groups in Lebanon, Syria, Iraq and Yemen.

    Read the full story from Reuters.

  • Why are Israel and Iran attacking each other? History of the Middle East conflict and what could happen next

    A woman walks past a banner showing missiles being launched, in northern Tehran, Iran, Friday, April 19, 2024. Iran fired air defenses at a major air base and a nuclear site near the central city of Isfahan after spotting drones early Friday morning, raising fears of a possible Israeli strike in retaliation for Tehran's unprecedented drone-and-missile assault on the country. On the missiles, a decorative sign reads:
    A woman walks past a banner showing missiles being launched, in northern Tehran, Iran. (AP Photo/Vahid Salemi)

    The Middle East is on a precipice of a conflict that would be devastating for the region and the rest of the world, the United Nations has warned.

    The UN was referring to the increased hostility between Israel and Iran as world leaders urged restraint following Tehran’s unprecedented attack last weekend. But in the early hours of Friday morning explosions were heard at a major military airbase and nuclear site at Isfahan, located around 250 miles south of the Iranian capital Tehran.

    Read the full story from The Independent.

  • Netanyahu’s war cabinet splintering as security minister calls attack on Iran ‘lame’

    Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu addresses the Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations, amid the ongoing conflict between Israel and the Palestinian Islamist group Hamas, in Jerusalem, February 18, 2024. REUTERS/Ronen Zvulun
    There is a growing rift in Benjamin Netanyahu's cabinet. (Reuters)

    An Israeli minister has described Friday’s attack on Iran as “lame”, in a sign of the growing rift in Benjamin Netanyahu’s war cabinet.

    Multiple explosions believed to be caused by the interception of drones were reported early on Friday morning over the Iranian city of Isfahan, home to a major air base and nuclear site.

    Read the full story from The Telegraph.

  • Israel gave US last-minute warning about drone attack on Iran, Italian foreign minister says at G7

    The United States told the Group of Seven foreign ministers on Friday that it received “last minute” information from Israel about a drone action in Iran, but didn't participate in the apparent attack, officials said.

    Italian Foreign Minister Antonio Tajani, who chaired the meeting of ministers of industrialised countries, said the United States provided the information at a Friday morning session that was changed at the last minute to address the suspected attack.

    Read the full story from The Canadian Press.

  • Israel, Iran ready to de-escalate - for now: analysts

    Iranian worshippers attend an anti-Israeli gathering after their Friday prayer in Tehran, Iran, Friday, April 19, 2024. An apparent Israeli drone attack on Iran saw troops fire air defenses at a major air base and a nuclear site early Friday morning near the central city of Isfahan, an assault coming in retaliation for Tehran's unprecedented drone-and-missile assault on the country. (AP Photo/Vahid Salemi)
    Iranian worshippers attend an anti-Israeli gathering after their Friday prayer in Tehran, Iran. (AP Photo/Vahid Salemi)

    The limited nature of Israel's reported strike on Iran and the restrained immediate Iranian reaction shows both sides, in particular Tehran, are looking to de-escalate after weeks of tensions but the situation remains dangerously explosive, analysts say.

    There have been fears over the last weeks decades of enmity between Israel and the Islamic republic could spill over into all-out war as Israel pursues its offensive on Gaza in the wake of the October 7 attack on Israel by Palestinian militant group Hamas which is backed by Tehran.

    Read the full story from AFP.

  • Oil prices briefly surge, stocks slide on Iran blasts

    Oil prices briefly surged and stock markets slid Friday on reports Israel had carried out retaliatory strikes against Iran, boosting investments deemed safer such as gold.

    Iran's state media reported explosions in the central province of Isfahan on Friday, as US media quoted officials saying Israel had carried out retaliatory strikes against its arch-rival.

    Read the full story from AFP.

  • Michel hopes apparent Israeli attack on Iran will bring 'end' to escalation

    President of the European Council Charles Michel spoke exclusively to Euronews hours after Iran activated its air defences near the central city of Isfahan as it was targeted by a suspected retaliatory attack by Israel, fuelling again fears of a wider regional conflict.

    It came just six days after Iran launched a barrage of some 300 drones and cruise and ballistic missiles in its first-ever direct attack against Israeli territory. This happened on the heels of an Israeli airstrike on the Iranian consulate in Damascus that had killed seven members of the Islamic Revolutionary Guard.

    Read the full story from Euronews.

  • US secretary of state Blinken speaks on the importance of a ceasefire

  • G7 foreign ministers warn of further sanctions over Iran

    Britain's Foreign Secretary David Cameron attends a meeting on the sidelines of the G7 Foreign Ministers meeting on Capri Island, Italy, Friday, April 19, 2024. (AP Photo/Gregorio Borgia, Pool)
    Foreign secretary David Cameron attends a meeting on the sidelines of the G7 Foreign Ministers meeting on Capri Island, Italy. (AP Photo/Gregorio Borgia, Pool)

    Lord David Cameron and fellow G7 foreign ministers also warned Iran could face further sanctions.

    “We demand that Iran and its affiliated groups cease their attacks. We will hold the Iranian government accountable for its malicious and destabilising actions and we stand ready to adopt further sanctions or take other measures, now and in response to further destabilising initiatives,” they said.

    The allies also urged Israel to “fully comply with international law, including international humanitarian law” as it exerts its right to defend itself, and condemned the “unacceptable” number of civilian deaths in Gaza.

    They repeated calls for Israel to help ramp up the flow of aid into Gaza, saying: “We underscore the urgent need for specific, concrete, and measurable steps to significantly increase the flow of aid into Gaza in light of imminent risk of famine for a majority of Gaza’s population.”

  • Starmer urges restraint

    Photo by: zz/KGC-254/STAR MAX/IPx 2024 4/17/24 Sir Keir Starmer - Leader of The Labour Party and Leader of The Opposition - is seen leaving his home on April 17, 2024 to attend the weekly session of The Prime Minister's Questions at The Houses of Parliament. (London, England, UK)
    Sir Keir Starmer har urged restraint over the situation in the Middle East. (Associated Press)

    Restraint “has to be the way forward” for the ensuing conflict across the Middle East, Sir Keir Starmer has said.

    The Labour leader told broadcasters: “I am deeply concerned about the prospect of escalation. Escalation of the conflict in the Middle East is in nobody’s interest and so it is very important therefore that everybody urges restraint on all sides.

    “More than that, we really need that ceasefire in Gaza now straightaway so that hostages can come out, desperately needed aid needs to get in – desperately, desperately needed – and we need, if you like, a foot in the door for the political process to peace.

    “I have been concerned about escalation for a long time now. Restraint has to be the way forward.”

  • Inside Iran’s ‘nuclear energy mountain’

    When explosions were heard in the Iranian province of Isfahan early Friday morning the thoughts of many Middle East watchers turned to a very particular target.

    The Natanz complex, Iran’s primary uranium enrichment facility, has been the subject of deepening Western interest as Iran seeks to expand its nuclear abilities.

    Read the full story from The Telegraph.

  • Western states sought to send de-escalation messages to Iran via Turkey, Western diplomat says

    Western states have sought to send Iran messages via Turkey in recent days to reiterate appeals for de-escalation, a Western diplomat said on Friday.

    The messages were conveyed before reported Israeli attacks on Iran early on Friday, after which Tehran indicated it had no plans for further retaliation.

    Read the full story from Reuters.

  • 'Escalation is not in anyone's interest,' Sunak says

    Britain's Prime Minster Rishi Sunak departs 10 Downing Street to go to the House of Commons for his weekly Prime Minister's Questions in London, Wednesday, April 17, 2024. (AP Photo/Alastair Grant)
    Rishi Sunak has called for calm heads over the Middle East crisis. (AP Photo/Alastair Grant)

    The prime minister has said it is not in anyone's interest to see the situation in the Middle East escalate.

    "It is a developing situation and it wouldn’t be right for me to speculate until the facts become clearer, and we’re working to confirm the details together with allies," he said.

    "We have condemned Iran’s reckless and dangerous barrage of missiles against Israel on Saturday, and Israel absolutely has the right to self-defence.

    "But as I said to prime minister Netanyahu when I spoke to him last week, and more generally, significant escalation is not in anyone’s interest. What we want to see is calm heads prevail across the region.”

  • Everything we know about Israel’s strikes on Iran as explosions rock Isfahan

    An anti-Israel billboard with a picture of Iranian missiles is seen on a street in Tehran, Iran April 19, 2024. Majid Asgaripour/WANA (West Asia News Agency) via REUTERS
    An anti-Israel billboard with a picture of Iranian missiles is seen on a street in Tehran, Iran. (West Asia News Agency/Reuters)

    Israel launched an attack on Iran overnight, less than a week after a full-scale attack by Tehran on Israeli territory last weekend.

    Explosions could reportedly be seen near the central city of Isfahan, which is home to a major military airbase and several nuclear experimental reactors.

    Iranian media have reported three drones were shot down after the air defence systems were activated, and there have been no reports of injuries or damage so far. Israel’s leadership and military have not commented on the strike.

    Read the full story from The Independent.

  • Iran media posts video 'of drones being shot down'

    Iran's state-owned Press TV has post a video on X showing what it claims is the moment Iran's air defense shot down several mini quadcopters near Isfahan.

  • Netherlands calls attack 'deeply worrying'

    The Dutch minister of foreign affairs Hanke Bruins Slot has responded to the overnight developments, describing them as "deeply worrying".

  • Sunak unwilling to speculate on attack

    Prime minister Rishi Sunak has said it wouldn't be right for him to speculate on reports of Israel's attack.

    He said: "As you would appreciate, it is a developing situation and it wouldn't be right for me to speculate until the facts become clear and we're working to confirm the details with allies. We have condemned Iran's reckless and dangerous barrage of missiles against Israel on Saturday and Israel absolutely has the right to self-defence.

    "As I said to prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu when I spoke to him last week more generally, significant escalation is not in anyone's interests and we want to see calm heads prevail across the region."

    Sunak was asked about the apparent attack at an event outlining his major planned reforms to the welfare system.

  • 'Symbolic message to the Iranians'

    Speaking to CNN, Mark Dubowitz, CEO of the Foundation for Defense of Democracies (FDD), said the reported attack was a “symbolic message to the Iranians”, suggesting: “We can hit your nuclear facilities but also we can penetrate your air defences and you are defenceless.”

    He said if Israel had struck an air force base, potentially hitting Iranian fighter jets on the ground, it would be “some interesting symmetry” and “almost poetic” given Iran had tried to do the same to Israel with its barrage of drones and missiles.

    He said a key point was the suggestion that Iran’s air defences may not have worked, suggesting a vulnerability that could affect its decisions going forward.

    “What Iran has done is it’s ringed their valuable assets with air defence. they’ve just discovered today that their air defences don’t work.”

    He said the “degree of vulnerability” would be “giving pause” to Iran’s leadership, adding: “they may be careful - they may decide to downplay it and stand down”.

  • 'A dangerous moment'

    Sky News’ Middle East correspondent has posted this update on X, saying there are no reports of casualties, but describing the recent developments as a “dangerous moment”.

    However, if Israel’s response is limited to this incident, he says that this could be a signal that de-escalation is possible.

  • How Iran has responded

    TEHRAN, IRAN - APRIL 19: People walk on the streets of Tehran as they continue their daily lives after the explosions heard in Isfahan and Tabriz cities of Iran, in Tehran, Iran on April 19, 2024. The sounds were heard due to the activation of the air defense system and the destruction of 3 mini unmanned aerial vehicles (UAV), Iranian media reported. (Photo by Fatemeh Bahrami/Anadolu via Getty Images)
    Iran's capital Tehran was calm on Friday morning. (Getty)

    While there has been no official statement from Iran, an official appeared downplayed the incident to the Reuters news agency.

    "The foreign source of the incident has not been confirmed. We have not received any external attack, and the discussion leans more towards infiltration than attack," the Iranian official said on condition of anonymity.

    In most official comments and news reports, there was no mention of Israel and state television carried analysts and pundits who appeared dismissive about the scale.

    An analyst told state TV that mini drones flown by "infiltrators from inside Iran" had been shot down by air defenses in Isfahan.

    Shortly after midnight, "three drones were observed in the sky over Isfahan. The air defense system became active and destroyed these drones in the sky," Iranian state TV said.

    Senior army commander Siavosh Mihandoust was quoted by state TV as saying air defense systems had targeted a "suspicious object."

    Iranian President Ebrahim Raisi had warned Israel before Friday's strike that Tehran would deliver a "severe response" to any attack on its territory.

    Read more from Reuters here

  • World reacts to Israel 'attack'

    BRUSSELS, BELGIUM - APRIL 18: Ursula von der Leyen President of European Commission attends a press conference during Special European Council Meeting on April 18, 2024 in Brussels, Belgium. (Photo by Pier Marco Tacca/Getty Images)
    Ursula von der Leyen. (Getty)

    Here are handful of reactions coming into to the apparent Israel attack.

    The Chinese foreign ministry said it opposes any action escalating tensions in the Middle East.

    The president of the European Commission Ursula Von Der Leyen said: “It is absolutely necessary that the region remains stable and that all sides restrain from further action."

    Ben Saul, the UN's special rapporteur for human rights, said: "Israel's latest strikes on Iran are another violation of the prohibition on the use of military force under international law & the UN Charter, and threaten the human right to life."

    Deputy French foreign minister Jean-Noel Barrot said: "All I can say is that France's position is to call on all actors for de-escalation and restraint."

    Oman has also condemned “the repeated Israeli military attacks in the region”, according to a foreign ministry statement,.

  • Iran 'is downplaying attack' - expert

    More reaction to the overnight developments is coming in.

    Jonathan Lord, senior fellow and director of the Middle East security program at US think tank the Center for a New American Security, has said the attack appeared to have been a “limited strike intended to demonstrate that Israel has the ability to attack inside Iran and hit fairly sensitive targets.”

    He told Reuters: “Iranian state media has seemed to downplay the attack, saying that a number of small drones have been intercepted by Iranian air defense over Isfahan.

    "That seems to indicate that Iran is seeking to step down off the ledge, minimise the impact of the attack, and perhaps walk back down the escalation ladder from here.”

  • 'Israel can penetrate Iranian defences'

    Jonathan Conricus a former spokesperson for the Israel Defense Forces, has indicated that Israel's attack should be deemed a succes.

    He posted on X: "Iran seeks to return to the shadows and is downplaying the Israeli strike on the strategic city of Isfahan, but I think they’ve gotten the message: Israel can penetrate Iranian defenses and strike wherever it wants."

  • Airlines reroute flights after Israeli attack

    Airlines quickly changed flight paths over Iran, diverted to alternate airports or returned planes to their departure points on Friday in response to airspace and airport closures after an Israeli attack on Iran, flight tracking data showed.

    Iran closed its airports in Tehran, Shiraz and Isfahan after the attack and cleared flights from the western portion of its airspace for a few hours after the attack, according to flight tracking website FlightRadar24.

    By 0445 GMT the airports and airspace had reopened, and closure notices posted on a U.S. Federal Aviation Administration database had been removed.

    Before the airports reopened, Flydubai said it had canceled its Friday flights to Iran. One of its earlier flights turned back to Dubai, it said.

    An Iran Air flight from Rome to Tehran was diverted to Ankara, Turkey, Flightradar 24 showed.

    Emirates, Flydubai, Turkish Air, Wizz Air Abu Dhabi and Belavia were among the carriers continuing to fly over the part of Iran's airspace that remained open in the initial hours after the attack early on Friday, the tracking website showed.

    "We are monitoring the situation closely and will make changes to our flight paths in consultation with the relevant authorities," Flydubai said in a statement.

    Via Reuters

  • Israel minister posts 'feeble' response

    Israel's hard-line minister of National Security of Israel has posted a message in Hebrew on X (formerly Twitter) saying "feeble" in an apparent criticism of the scale of Israel's reaction to Iran's attack last weekend.

  • 'Israel's attack on Iran reflects badly on Biden'

    The overnight events do not reflect well on President Biden. He had signalled so emphatically just days ago for Israel not to retaliate.

    "Take the win," the American president told Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu in the early hours of Sunday morning.

    It was a message made public and combined with back-channel briefings we were getting from the White House and the State Department.

    Read the full analysis from Sky News' US correspondent Mark Stone here

  • Why did Israel attack Iran and could it spark all-out war?

    A truck is carrying Iranian-made Unmanned Aerial Vehicles (UAVs) during a military parade marking the anniversary of Iran's Army Day at an Army military base in Tehran, Iran, on April 17, 2024. (Photo by Morteza Nikoubazl/NurPhoto via Getty Images)
    Iranian-made Unmanned Aerial Vehicles (UAVs) during a military parade in Tehran on 17 April. (Getty)

    Israel struck Iran on Friday morning in an attack that dramatically raises the stakes in a simmering conflict.

    Benjamin Netanyahu appears to have defied Western calls for restraint, sparking fears of another major escalation in the Middle East.

    As Israel and Iran trade strikes and counter-strikes, concern is mounting that a regional war could erupt.

    But how likely is it that a third world war could break out?

    Read more from the Telegraph on what could happen next here

  • US to address latest developments

    U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken (L) and Britain's Foreign Secretary David Cameron arrive for a family photo during the G7 foreign ministers meeting on the small island of Capri on April 18, 2024. (Photo by Tiziana FABI / AFP) (Photo by TIZIANA FABI/AFP via Getty Images)
    US Secretary of State Antony Blinken and David Cameron at the G7 conference in Italy. (Getty)

    The latest developments happened as foreign ministers from the Group of Seven (G7) major democracies gathered on the Italian island of Capri.

    Anthony Blinken, the US Secretary of State, is due to hold a briefing late morning UK time to respond to the latest developments.

    The continuing escalation of tensions between Israel and Iran and the wars in Gaza and in Ukraine dominates the agenda of the ministers from the US, UK, France, Italy, Germany, Canada and Japan.

    On Thursday, the US announced new sanctions on Iran targeting its unmanned aerial vehicle production after its attack on Israel. US President Joe Biden said G7 leaders were committed to acting together to increase economic pressure on Tehran.

    The UK announced that it was also introducing sanctions on Iran in co-ordination with Washington. Foreign Secretary David Cameron called Iran's behavior "unacceptable."

    Read more about the sanctions from Reuters here

  • Region must de-escalate - UK minister

    The UK's work and pensions secretary Mel Stride has said Israel had a “right to self defence”, but the government’s message is that “de-escalation is extremely important”.

    He told the BBC on Friday morning: “The government’s position is very clear on this - Israel of course has a right to self defence.

    “At the same time we recognise that this is a very problematic, febrile situation and it is important that all parties -Iran included, Israel included- do focus on de-escalation.” He added: “The message from the government is that de-escalation is extremely important.”

  • What's in Isfahan? The city home to Iranian nuclear facilities

    The central Iranian Isfahan is home to a number of important military facilities, including nuclear facilities, a major airbase and factories associated with Iranian drone and other military production.

    Initial reports by Iran’s Fars news agency centred on “three explosions” heard near Qahjavarestan, close to Isfahan airport and the Shekari army airbase, while Iran’s space agency spokesperson Hossein Dalirian said “several” drones had been “successfully shot down”.

    While the well-known Natanz uranium enrichment facility is located in the province, Iran’s uranium conversion Facility is located in the southeastern Zerdenjan area of Isfahan.

    Read more about Isfahan, the city home to Iranian nuclear facilities, from the Guardian here

  • Oil prices jump after report of attack

    Oil prices jumped on Friday following reports that Israel had attacked Iran, sparking concerns that Middle East oil supply could be disrupted.

    Investors have been closely monitoring Israel's reaction to the 13 April Iranian drone attacks. The geopolitical risk premium in oil prices had been unwinding this week on the perception that any Israeli retaliation to Iran's attack would be moderated by international pressure.

    "Further escalation [suggests] that the tit-for-tat retaliation between both sides will drag for longer," said Jun Rong Yeap, a market strategist at IG in Singapore.

  • Iran no immediate plans to retaliate - report

    A senior Iranian official has reportedly said that there is no plan for an immediate retaliation to the reported Israeli strike.

    According to Reuters, the official said there had been no confirmation as to who was behind the attack.

  • No damage to Iran nuclear site

    The International Atomic Energy Agency has posted on X (formerly twitter) that there has been no damage to Iran’s nuclear sites.

  • Iran missile 'strike': what we know so far

    Welcome to our live coverage of the developing situation between Iran and Israel.

    Here’s what we know so far:

    • According to multiple reports, US officials described Israel as having attacked Iran overnight with an airstrike.

    • Iran’s Fars new agency subsequently said three explosions were heard near an army base in the central city of Isfahan.

    • An Iranian official told Reuters there was no missile attack and the explosions were the result of the activation of Iran's air defense systems.

    • US officials reported told multiple media outlets that Israel had forewarned it of an attack. According to CNN, the US did not approve any such military operation.

    • Video sent to the BBC from a resident of Ishafan seemingly shows a loud explosion and then the sound of what appears to be gunfire.