Israel’s attack on Iran ‘took out’ Russian-made air defence system

Aircraft and fighter jets attacked dozens of targets in the Gaza Strip over the last 24 hours, the IDF claimed
An IDF fighter jet takes off for a mission over the Gaza Strip

Israel’s attack on Iran appears to have been a precise strike that took out the key part of a Russian-made air defence system at a key air base at Isfahan, according to reports.

Satellite imagery showed a “flip radar” component of the S-300 air defence battery either damaged or destroyed on Friday, according to analysts and the New York Times.

“A probable damaged 30N6E target engagement radar was visible in imagery,” said Chris Biggers, a former US military analyst who works at satellite imagery analytics company HawkEye 360.

Four vehicles carrying missiles had also been moved but were eapparently not damaged, he said. “Their status and location is currently unclear.”

Iran was given the S-300 air defence battery by Russia in 2016.

The damaged radar equipment is near the 8th Shekari airbase, just north-east of Isfahan, a central Iranian city where the sounds of multiple explosions were reported early on Friday morning.

A report by CNN, also citing satellite imagery, said there was no evidence of extensive damage at the airbase, suggesting it was a deliberately limited attack.

“There [do] not appear to be any large craters in the ground and there are no apparent destroyed buildings,” CNN’s report said.

Israeli media reports also suggested that the attack was targeting infrastructure used to provide air cover to Natanz, a secretive facility involved in Iran’s nuclear programme.

Israeli intelligence and defence analyst Ronen Solomon told The Telegraph: “From what we have seen, Israel’s strike intended to neutralise Iran’s air defence advance systems that cover Natanz and Isfahan’s nuclear sites that are involved in enrichment and could convert it to a uranium metal for a bomb.

“This is like a yellow card in football before the red card that is a full strike to destroy them.”

Limited attacks

He claimed the “limited attacks” meant Iran would now scramble to restore the defence systems, starting with those around Isfahan city, a key area in terms of Iran’s nuclear and defence capabilities.

Senior US military sources told Fox News that the attack was intended to be a warning to Tehran that Israel was capable of striking the nuclear programme if tensions escalated. It showed that Israel “can reach out and touch you”, the source said.

Israel’s strike was calculated to show Tehran that it could bypass Iranian defence systems undetected and paralyse them using a fraction of the firepower Iran deployed last week, Western officials told the New York Times.

Iranian officials have sought to play down the significance of the attack and Israel has not publicly claimed responsibility for it, suggesting both sides are eager to draw a line under the current hostilities.

“What happened last night was not a strike,” Hossein Amir-Abdollahian, the Iranian foreign minister, told NBC News. “They were more like toys that our children play with – not drones.”

When Mr Amir-Abdollahian was asked while passing by a group of other journalists if he had any comment on Friday’s attack, a member of his delegation responded: “What strike?”

It comes after Iran last weekend launched a massive drone and missile attack on Israel, which was almost entirely intercepted by Israel’s air defences and those of its allies.

The attack was in retaliation for a recent Israeli strike on an Iranian consulate building in Damascus which killed a senior member of Iran’s elite Revolutionary Guards force.

Overnight, however, the Iranian foreign minister warned Israel against any further military action and said it was ready to launch another major strike on Israel if this occurred.

“If Israel wants to do another adventurism and acts against the interests of Iran, our next response will be immediate and will be at the maximum level,”  Mr Amir-Abdollahian said.

“The Zionist regime’s media supporters, in a desperate effort, tried to make victory out of their defeat, while the downed mini-drones have not caused any damage or casualties,” he also claimed.

Also on Saturday, at least one person was killed in an attack on pro-Iran militia groups in Iraq. It was not immediately who was behind the attack, with the US denying any involvement.