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April 19, 2024
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US Officials: Israeli missile strikes Iran; blasts heard

Amid escalating tensions in the Middle East, an Israeli missile strike has reportedly targeted Iran, according to sources from US officials speaking to CBS News, a partner of the BBC. The strike was accompanied by audible explosions in Iran’s central province of Isfahan, though the specific targets remain unclear.

The incident unfolds against a backdrop of heightened alertness in Iran following a prior statement from Israel, vowing retaliation for an alleged Iranian attack the previous Saturday. In what marks a significant escalation, Iran launched over 300 drones and missiles in a direct assault on Israel, exposing the long-standing covert conflict between the two nations.

Notably, Iranian media outlets have not confirmed any direct impacts resulting from the Israeli strike reported on Friday. Moreover, the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) stated that no nuclear sites suffered damage. Israel has yet to officially comment on the incident.

Isfahan province, the site of the reported explosions, hosts crucial military installations, including a major airbase, missile production complex, and several nuclear facilities. Iranian semi-official news agency Fars, affiliated with the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC), reported explosions near Isfahan International Airport and an army base in Isfahan city. Local air defense systems were activated in response.

Video footage shared on BBC Persian’s Instagram account captured orange flashes illuminating the night sky in Isfahan, accompanied by the sound of anti-aircraft fire bursts. This event follows closely on the heels of Iran’s retaliatory strike against an Israeli air raid on Iran’s consulate building in Syria, resulting in casualties including two high-ranking generals.

According to Israeli military sources, the majority of Iranian drones and missiles were intercepted by Israeli air defenses, supported by allies such as the US and UK. Nonetheless, several ballistic missiles managed to strike an airbase in the Negev desert, causing injury to a young Bedouin girl from falling shrapnel.

Post-strike, Iran indicated its reluctance to further escalate the conflict. However, Iranian leaders had previously warned of swift retaliation in response to any Israeli aggression. Efforts within the international community aimed at de-escalation have been ongoing, with calls for restraint voiced by various stakeholders.

Addressing the precarious situation, UN Secretary-General António Guterres warned of the perilous escalation between Israel and Iran, cautioning against the potential for a catastrophic regional conflict. The Security Council has been briefed on the urgency of preventing further escalation, highlighting the grave consequences of any misstep in the current volatile climate.

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