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19 Apr, 2024 15:00

Israeli strike targeted Iranian airbase – NYT

Both Tehran and West Jerusalem have downplayed the event
Israeli strike targeted Iranian airbase – NYT

Explosions near the Iranian city of Isfahan on Friday morning were Israeli strikes on a military airfield, the New York Times claimed on Friday, citing anonymous sources. Neither Israel nor Iran has officially commented on the incident.

Israel vowed to “respond” to last Saturday’s drone and missile strike by Iran, itself reprisal for the April 1 bombing of the Iranian consulate in Damascus, Syria that killed several senior officers of the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) Quds Force.

Residents of the Iranian cities of Isfahan and Tabriz reported a series of blasts early on Friday. According to the NYT, three Iranian officials said the military airbase near Isfahan was hit. The Fars News agency reported that the explosions were heard near the city’s civilian airport.

“The sound was related to Isfahan’s air defense systems firing at suspicious objects,” Brigadier Siavash Mihandoust, senior army commander in Isfahan province, said on Friday. “We have not had any damage,” he added.

Iranian President Ebrahim Raisi gave a speech later in the day praising last Saturday’s strike on Israel but did not mention the explosions in Isfahan or Tabriz.

According to Bloomberg, Israel had warned the US in advance that it would strike Iran in the next 24-48 hours. This was a change from the April 1 attack on Syria, when the White House was informed after the airstrike was already underway, the NYT reported.

Iran vowed to punish Israel but waited 12 days to do so, while warning the US to stay out of it. Tehran also publicly accused the UN of not doing its job to mete out justice, claiming Iran had been left with no choice but to strike back.

Unnamed Israeli officials told British-based media that West Jerusalem would strike at Iran’s nuclear facilities in case of an attack, but that now appears to have been a psychological operation intended to deter Tehran.

The International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) said on Friday that there had been “no damage” to nuclear sites in Iran. The agency head, Rafael Grossi, called for “extreme restraint from everybody.”