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Israel launches retaliatory strikes against Iran.

Israel launches retaliatory strikes against Iran Officials and diplomats indicate attacks were limited and sought to avoid escalation.

Israel launched strikes against Iran early on Friday morning, Israeli and western officials said, in what appeared to be limited retaliatory action for last week’s drone and missile attack by Tehran. Iran’s air defences shot at incoming targets and explosions were reported near the cities of Isfahan, in central Iran, and Tabriz in the north-west, local authorities and media said.

Iranian state media played down the damage from the suspected attacks and Iran lifted flight restrictions imposed overnight. Israel notified the US of its intention to carry out strikes in Iran on Thursday evening, giving its closest ally a few hours’ official notice, an Israeli official said.
The warning did not include details of the attack, but did make clear that Israel intended to avoid Tehran and its vicinity, and was focused on a specific military programme or facility related to the Iranian Revolutionary Guards, the official said. Separately, Syria’s Sana state news agency reported that Israeli missiles had targeted air defence positions in its southern region, citing a military source. Three western officials also confirmed the strike on Iran had been launched by Israel, while one said it had been limited in scope. ABC News and CBS News reported that Israel had used missiles in the attack, citing US officials.
In accordance with Israel’s long-held policy of ambiguity regarding its operations against Iran, spokespeople for the government and military declined to comment. A person familiar with the matter said the strike in Iran had hit a military target which had been involved in the Iranian barrage against Israel a week ago, and that they were not aware of any casualties. The person said that “some targets” had also been hit in southern Syria. “Geographically it shows that Israel can get to wherever it wants in Iran,” the person said.
“That was part of the message.” In contacts with allies before the strike, Israel had indicated that, while it reserved the right to respond to Iran’s barrage, it was not seeking escalation, according to a western diplomat. Isfahan houses both an Iranian military air base and an important site in Iran’s nuclear programme, which Tehran insists is purely peaceful but which the west fears could put the Islamic republic on the threshold of weapons capacity.
The Tasnim news agency, which is close to the Revolutionary Guards, reported that the air base and nuclear facility near Isfahan were safe and rejected reports of any attack from outside the country. Abdolrahim Mousavi, Iran’s top army commander, was quoted by state media as saying that air defence batteries in Isfahan had shot at a few airborne objects, leaving no damage. He said experts were conducting further investigations and their findings would be announced in due course.
Iran President Ebrahim Raisi
Iran’s President Ebrahim Raisi made no mention of the apparent Israeli attack in a nationwide televised speech on Friday, but hailed last week’s strike on Israel as an indication of his own country’s military prowess.
The International Atomic Energy Agency, the UN’s nuclear watchdog, said on Friday it could “confirm that there is no damage to Iran’s nuclear sites”.
It added in a post on X that it “continues to call for extreme restraint from everybody and reiterates that nuclear facilities should never be a target in military conflicts”. Tally Gotliv, an Israeli lawmaker from the ruling Likud party, wrote on X that Israelis should have their “head . . . held high with pride” over its strength, adding: “May we regain our power of deterrence.” In a more cryptic post, Itamar Ben-Gvir, Israel’s far-right minister for national security, who had called for a “crushing attack” against Iran, wrote on X: “Weak!” Deraa24, a Syrian opposition news website, said Israeli jets hit a military battalion near the town of Qarfa in the country’s southern Deraa province. A vehicle carrying missiles linked to the battalion was also struck, it said. Israeli forces have conducted scores of air strikes against Iran-affiliated forces as part of an increasingly overt confrontation across the Middle East during the past decade. The White House and Pentagon declined to comment.
Israel has struck hundreds of targets in Syria, including the Aleppo and Damascus airports, as well as weapons depots tied to Tehran and its proxies in Syria. Oil prices climbed sharply following the reports before falling back after Tehran appeared to downplay the significance of the strikes. Futures for Brent crude, the international oil benchmark, briefly rose above $90 a barrel and then retreated to trade 1.1 per cent higher at $88.04. West Texas Intermediate, the US marker, added 1.2 per cent to $83.75 a barrel. European stocks fell in early trade, with the Stoxx Europe 600 index down 0.6 per cent. Contracts tracking the US benchmark S&P 500 were down 0.5 per cent ahead of the New York market open — on track to extend Wall Street’s losing streak for a sixth consecutive session. 
Tension has been high in the Middle East over possible Israeli retaliation after Iran fired more than 300 armed drones and missiles at the Jewish state last weekend, the first time Tehran has targeted the country directly from its own soil. Iran said the strike was a response to an attack on its embassy in Damascus that killed senior military commanders, which Tehran blamed on Israel. The Pentagon earlier on Thursday said defence secretary Lloyd Austin spoke to his Israeli counterpart Yoav Gallant to discuss “regional threats and Iran’s destabilising actions in the Middle East”.
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