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Iran launches attack on Israel

Iran launched a massive drone attack toward Israel on Saturday night into Sunday morning local time, following through on its threats of retaliation against the Jewish state after several top Iranian commanders were killed in a suspected Israeli strike in Syria earlier this month. The United States has acted to defend Israel from the onslaught, which marks the first direct attack on Israel by Iran; until now, Iran has relied on proxies such as Hamas and Hezbollah. The Associated Press reported that American forces have intercepted and shot down several drones before they reached Israeli airspace, though no number has been confirmed.

The Israeli military estimates that the attack involved hundreds of drones, with more than 100 intercepted outside of Israeli airspace. An IDF spokesman also confirmed that Iran fired both ballistic and cruise missiles toward Israel, per Fox News. The Israel Defense Forces have intercepted what the Times of Israel described as a “barrage of ballistic missiles,” and explosions could be heard over Jerusalem several hours after midnight, local time.

ABC News, citing a senior American official, reported that Iran initially launched 80 missiles toward Israel and followed that round with 80 more. IDF spokesman Daniel Hagari said that, by about 3:00 a.m. local time, a small number of missiles had hit Israeli territory, causing minor damage to a military base in the country’s south.

On Friday, President Joe Biden said that Iran’s attack against Israel was imminent and warned Tehran against carrying out the attack. “Don’t,” he said. U.S. officials believe the attack will lead to a wider regional conflict that extends beyond Israel and Iranian proxies such as Hamas or Hezbollah.

Airspace over Israel, Iraq, Lebanon, and Jordan was closed as the attack unfolded. U.S. and Israeli officials had said they planned on intercepting the Iranian drones before they reached Israel, according to reports.

An Iranian compound in Damascus was hit by a drone strike on April 1, resulting in the deaths of Iran’s top Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps general, Mohammad Reza Zahedi, and at least six other IRGC officers. Israel did not claim responsibility for the airstrike, nor did the U.S. reveal who was behind the drone attack. However, Iran laid the blame solely on Israel and threatened to retaliate.

Following the onset of the drone attack, Iran’s supreme leader Ali Khameini vowed that Israel’s “malicious Zionist regime will be punished.”

“The malicious regime itself, which is all malice, evil and error, added another mistake to its own errors by launching an attack on the Iranian consulate in Syria,” the ayatollah said in a video posted to X. “The consulate and embassy offices in any country where they exist are regarded as the soil of the country to which the embassy belongs. Attacking our consulate is like attacking our soil.”

“The malicious regime has made a wrong move in this case. It should be punished and it will be punished,” he concluded.

Israeli prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu said Israel, its military, and people remain strong and warned, “Whoever harms us, we will harm them.”

U.S. National Security Council spokeswoman Adrienne Watson said Biden is being constantly briefed on the developing situation and that the president stands in solidarity with Israel.

“President Biden has been clear: our support for Israel’s security is ironclad,” Watson said in a statement. “The United States will stand with the people of Israel and support their defense against these threats from Iran.”

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