Iran launches dozens of drones and missiles toward Israel amid escalating tensions

Iran has fired multiple drones and cruise missiles toward Israel, escalating fears of wider conflict in the region.

The Israeli military revealed the drones had been launched in a statement late on Saturday night, stressing that they would take several hours to arrive.

Shortly after, Iran’s Revolutionary Guards confirmed the strike, which they have dubbed ‘Operation True Promise’ adding that it had also launched missiles against specific targets in Israel. Neighbouring Jordan declared a state of emergency following the launch.

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Israel’s top-rated Channel 12 TV reported that Iran had launched a total of around 100 drones and cruise missiles at Israeli targets on Saturday and that some were shot down over Syria or Jordan.

Syria has put its Russian-made Pantsir ground-to-air defence systems around the capital Damascus and major bases on high alert in the event of an Israeli strike, army sources said. They said they expected Israel would retaliate against army bases and installations where pro-Iranian militia were based, following the drone strike.

Iran’s attack comes after months of ratcheting tensions in the region over Israel’s war in Gaza reached new levels last week, as Iran vowed retaliation for a strike that killed senior Iranian military officers in its embassy compound in Damascus, for which Israel has neither confirmed nor denied responsibility.

The White House said on Saturday that Joe Biden had cut short his weekend plans to confer with national security advisers, a day after the US president warned Iran against attacking Israel – but said such a scenario could be imminent.

Hours later, Iran’s Revolutionary Guards seized a cargo ship in the Strait of Hormuz on Saturday, saying the vessel was linked to Israel, as Jordan declared its airspace closed, in a possible precautionary move given the likelihood of its territory being overflown by any missiles exchanged by Iran and Israel.

On Saturday night Israeli broadcaster Channel 12 TV reported that Iran had launched dozens of pilotless aircraft, with retired general Amos Yadlin claiming to the broadcaster that the drones were equipped with 20 kg of explosives each.

An IDF spokesperson confirmed prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s plane was airborne for “operational reasons”.

In a broadcast statement, IDF spokesperson Daniel Hagari said: “We are going to try and prevent them from reaching Israeli territory. That is our task. If they do enter Israeli airspace, you will hear sirens and alarms wherever these threats enter and we will intercept them.”

“If there is a different type of threat on a different timetable we will inform you immediately on all platforms.”

He added: “The IDF is well-prepared. All of its elements, both on the defensive and on the offensive, are prepared. We have prepared for diverse scenarios in advance.

“We operate in close collaboration with the US and our other partners in the region. In order to intersect these launches, we have the circles of protection from both the Navy and the Air Force on several layers, and we have additional circles of protection from the US military.

“We have an excellent air defence system and it is now in full operation, but you must remember it is never 100 per cent.”

Dozens of drones were seen flying from the direction of Iran over Iraq, two Iraqi security sources told Reuters, while a US official briefed on the attack also told the Associated Press that Iran had launched “dozens” of drones.

More follows on this breaking news story…

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