Israel carries out strike inside Iran, according to US officials

The overnight strike followed an unprecedented assault by Iran on Israel last weekend.

ITV News Presenter Yasmin Bodalbhai explains what we know so far about Israel’s overnight strike on Iran

Israel has carried out a strike inside Iran, a US official told CNN, in a move that threatens to push the region deeper into conflict.

The UK was among the countries stressing the need for de-escalation, with Prime Minister Rishi Sunak calling for “calm heads” to prevail in the Middle East, as the situation continues to evolve.

The governments of Israel and Iran have yet to issue an official comment since the reported attack. 

Iran’s air defence systems were activated in several locations, after three explosions were heard close to an airport and army base in the Iranian city of Isfahan, state media reported on Friday morning.

Three blasts were heard near a military base where fighter jets are located in the northwest part of Isfahan, according to Iran’s semi-official FARS news agency.

The agency reported that a possible target of the blast was a military radar, and that the explosion broke several windows of office buildings in the area.

As well as a major airbase, air defences were also activated over a nuclear site close to Isfahan, following reports of drones being spotted in the area, which Iran’s National Cyberspace centre said had been intercepted. 

It was not immediately clear which targets were hit and the full extent of the damage caused by the strike.

Footage posted by the Iranian Students’ News Agency showed life appearing to continue as normal in Ifsahan on Friday, despite the reported airstrikes.

Answering a question from ITV News after a speech on welfare reform, Sunak said: “As you would appreciate, it’s a developing situation.

“It wouldn’t be right for me to speculate until the facts become clear, and we’re working to confirm the details together with allies.

“We have condemned Iran’s reckless and dangerous barrage of missiles against Israel on Saturday and Israel absolutely has the right to self defence.

“But as I said to Prime Minister Netanyahu when I spoke to him last week, and more generally, significant escalation is not in anyone’s interest.

“What we want to see is calm heads prevail across the region.”

UK Foreign Secretary Lord David Cameron is discussing the developments with counterparts at the G7 foreign ministers meeting in Italy.

‘What we want to see is calm heads prevail across the region,’ Rishi Sunak said in response to a question from ITV News

Unnamed US officials said Israel carried out the airstrikes, according to reports, days after Israel was targeted by a barrage of Iranian drones and missiles.

The semi-official Tasnim news agency later published a video from one of its reporters, who said he was in the southeastern Zerdenjan area of Isfahan, near its “nuclear energy mountain”.

Two different anti-aircraft gun positions were shown in the footage, and details of the video corresponded with known features of the site of Iran’s Uranium Conversion Facility at Isfahan.

The facility operates three small Chinese-supplied research reactors, as well as handling fuel production and other activities for Iran’s civilian nuclear program.

Isfahan is also home to sites associated with Iran’s nuclear program, including its underground Natanz enrichment site, which has been repeatedly targeted by suspected Israeli sabotage attacks. Iranian State television described all atomic sites in the area as “fully safe”.

In a statement on Friday morning, the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) said in a statement on Friday morning that it “can confirm that there is no damage to Iran’s nuclear sites”.

The agency added that it “continues to call for extreme restraint from everybody and reiterates that nuclear facilities should never be a target in military conflicts”. 

Earlier this month Iran launched an unprecedented attack on Israel, which Tehran said was retaliation for a deadly suspected Israeli airstrike on Iran’s consulate in Syria.

On Thursday Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said Israel would make its “own decisions” when responding to Tehran’s strikes, most of which were intercepted by air defences, amid pressure from international leaders not to escalate tensions further. 

Were Israel to take any further military action against Iran, the Islamic Republic’s response would be “immediate and at a maximum level”, Foreign Minister Hossein Amir-Abdollahian told CNN on Thursday.

Cars and residents appeared to be going about their day as normal in the city of Isfahan on Friday morning, despite the reported strikes there

The US had been urging Israel not to respond to last weekend’s Iranian attack, which President Joe Biden on Thursday called “unprecedented”.

Advance notification of an intended strike was given to the US on Thursday, but Washington “didn’t green light” an Israeli response, an official said.

Outgoing flights from several Iranian airports have been cancelled, according to an Iranian official, Iranian state media Press TV reported.

Flights heading to “Tehran, Isfahan and Shiraz, the airports of the West, North West and South West have been suspended” the director of public relations for an Iranian airport company told state-run Mehr TV.

Flight tracking website Flight Radar 24 showed that multiple flights were diverted over Iranian airspace early on Friday.

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