Israel attacks Iran, sources say, drones reported over Isfahan

By Humeyra Pamuk, Phil Stewart and Parisa Hafezi

WASHINGTON/DUBAI (Reuters) -Israel launched an attack on Iranian soil on Friday, sources said, in the latest tit-for-tat exchange between the two arch foes, whose decades of shadow war has broken out into the open and threatened to drag the region deeper into conflict.

Iranian media reported explosions, but an Iranian official told Reuters those were caused by air defense systems. State media said three drones over the central city of Isfahan had been shot down.

Israel’s leadership and the military were silent early on Friday.

The United States received notification before Israel’s attack, a source familiar with the situation told Reuters, which came days after Iran launched an unprecedented strike on Israel with a barrage of drones and missiles. Most of those were shot down.

Washington and other global powers had pressed to Israel not to respond, or to ensure any further retaliation was limited to prevent a broader conflagration after the latest surge in violence was sparked by the air strike on the Iranian embassy compound in Damascus on April 1 that was blamed on Israel.

That strike came against the backdrop of Iran’s support for the Palestinian Hamas militant group, whose assault into Israel on Oct. 7 triggered Israel’s invasion of Gaza.

Iranian state TV said on Friday that 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.”

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.

Iran told the United Nations Security Council on Thursday that Israel “must be compelled to stop any further military adventurism against our interests” as the U.N. secretary-general warned that the Middle East was in a “moment of maximum peril.”

Shares and bond yields sank in Asia trade while safe-haven currencies, gold and crude oil jumped. Brent futures surged as much as 4.2%% on concerns Middle East supply could be disrupted before shedding some gains. MSCI’s broadest index of Asia-Pacific shares dropped 2%, after earlier diving as much as 2.6%, and U.S. stock futures pointed 1% lower. [MKTS/GLOB]

Iran’s state television said nuclear facilities 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 Natanz nuclear site, the centerpiece of Iran’s uranium enrichment program, is in Isfahan province.

Iran closed its airports in Tehran, Shiraz and Isfahan after the attack and also cleared flights from the western portion of its airspace for a few hours after the attack, according to FlightRadar24. By 0445 GMT the airports and airspace had reopened.

Israel’s assault on Gaza began after Palestinian Islamist group Hamas attacked Israel on Oct. 7, killing 1,200, according to Israeli tallies. Israel’s military offensive has killed over 33,000 Palestinians in Gaza, according to the local health ministry.

Iran-backed groups have declared support for Palestinians, launching attacks from Lebanon, Yemen and Iraq.

(Reporting by Humeyra Panuk, Phil Stewart and Idrees Ali in Washington and Parisa Hafezi in Dubai; Additional reporting by Kanishka Singh, Jasper Ward, Jamie Freed and Dan Williams; Writing by Stephen Coates; Editing by William Mallard)

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