Israeli drones hit near nuclear site in Iran

Israel has carried out a military strike inside Iran, according to a US official, the latest move in a dangerous escalation that threatens to push the already volatile region into a wider conflict.

The US was given advance notification on Thursday (Friday morning AEST) of an intended Israeli strike in the coming days, but did not endorse the response, the senior US official told CNN.

Iran’s air defence systems were activated in several locations after three explosions were heard close to a major military airbase near the Iranian city of Isfahan, state media reported.

A spokesman for Iran’s National Cyberspace Centre said air defences intercepted three drones and there were no reports of a missile attack.

Multiple state-aligned news agencies reported that sites associated with Iran’s nuclear program were “completely secure” and the attack appeared to be limited in scope, with no large-scale strikes or damage detected.

Reports of Friday’s strike came hours after Iran’s Foreign Minister Hossein Amir-Abdollahian told CNN that if Israel takes any further military action against Iran, its response would be “immediate and at a maximum level.”

“If the Israeli regime commits the grave error once again our response will be decisive, definitive and regretful for them,” he added, noting that this warning had been communicated to the White House via the Swiss Embassy in Tehran.

Tensions across the Middle East remain on a knife edge following Iran’s unprecedented direct strike against Israel last Saturday. The attack, during which Iran launched more than 300 drones and cruise missiles toward Israel, came in response to a suspected Israeli strike on an Iranian diplomatic complex in the Syrian capital, Damascus, on April 1, which killed a top commander and several others.

Outgoing flights from several Iranian airports were briefly cancelled or suspended early on Friday but aviation authorities later lifted all restrictions.

The Israeli military said they “don’t have a comment at this time,” when asked by CNN about reports of explosions in Iran.

Israel’s action in Iran is the latest escalatory move in a region that has been rocked by Israel’s devastating war in Gaza following Hamas’ brutal October 7 attack.

That attack killed more than 1200 people, mostly civilians, and saw more than 200 others taken hostage.

Israel’s bombardment and siege of Gaza has killed more than 33,000 Palestinians, according to Palestinian officials, caused widespread destruction of the enclave and sparked a humanitarian crisis where more than 1 million people face “catastrophic” levels of hunger.

Prior to Friday’s Israeli strike, the US expectation was the country would not target Iran’s civilian or nuclear facilities, another senior US official told CNN.

CNN has previously reported that Israel told the US its response would be limited in scope. US intelligence had suggested Israel was weighing a narrow and limited strike inside Iran because they felt like they had to respond with a kinetic action of some kind given the unprecedented scale of the Iranian attack.

The range of targets was “never specified in precise terms but nuclear and civilian locations were clearly not in that category,” the second official added.

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