Israel ‘launches missile attacks’ on Iran’s Isfahan; Tehran grounds flights: Reports | Latest updates

Israel launched missile attacks on Iran’s Isfahan on early Friday morning, April 19, less than a week after Tehran’s rocket and drone barrage, according to US officials. ABC and CBS News reported the strikes early Friday Mideast time, quoting US officials. There was no immediate comment from the White House or Pentagon.

Israeli soldiers at an Iron Dome anti-missile battery site near the Gaza border in southern Israel on April 17, 2024.(Bloomberg)

Iran, however, said it shot down several drones and that there had been “no missile attack for now” on the country after explosions were heard near the central city of Isfahan. Follow Live Updates on Iran-Israel news

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The BBC reported that explosions were reported in Isfahan, about four hours drive or 350km south of Iran’s capital Tehran. Isfahan is home to a major military air base and several Iranian nuclear sites are in the province- including the city of Natanz, a center piece of Iran’s uranium enrichment programme, the BBC added.

It remained unclear if the country was under attack, as no Iranian official directly acknowledged the possibility and Israel’s military did not respond to a request for comment. However, tensions have remained high in the days since the early Saturday assault on Israel amid its war on Hamas in the Gaza Strip and its own strikes targeting Iran in Syria.

Iran-Israel war: What we know so far

Flights were suspended in Isfahan and the Iranian cities of Tehran and Shiraz as well as airports across the country’s western borders, Iran’s Mehr news agency also reported.Several drones “have been successfully shot down by the country’s air defence, there are no reports of a missile attack for now,” Iran’s space agency spokesman Hossein Dalirian says on X (formally Twitter).Iran fired air defence batteries as explosions could be heard near a major air base near Isfahan.One Iranian government official suggested sites may have been targeted by drones.IRNA said the defences fired across several provinces. It did not elaborate on what caused the batteries to fire, though people across the area reported hearing the sounds.In particular, IRNA said air defences fired at a major air base in Isfahan, which long has been home to Iran’s fleet of American-made F-14 Tomcats — purchased before the 1979 Islamic Revolution.The Fars news agency said “three explosions” were heard near the Shekari army airbase near Isfahan.Oil jumped on intensifying concerns about conflict in the Middle East, with Brent rallying above $90 a barrel in a sudden move higher.Brent crude jumped above $90 a barrel and gold surged past $2,700 an ounce on the reports. US bond yields fell across the curve, with the 10-year yield down 10 basis points at 4.53%.Dubai-based carriers Emirates and FlyDubai began diverting around western Iran around 4:30 am (local time). They offered no explanation, though local warnings to aviators suggested the airspace may have been closed.Iran later announced it grounded commercial flights in Tehran and across areas of its western and central regions. Loudspeakers informed customers of the incident at Imam Khomeini International Airport in Tehran, online videos purported to show.In the hours preceding Friday’s reports, Iran’s foreign minister Hossein Amir-Abdollahian warned that his country’s response to any retaliation by Israel would be “immediate and at a maximum level”. He made the comments during an interview on CNN on Thursday.

(With inputs from AFP, AP, Reuters, Bloomberg)

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