• IRGC says Operation ‘True Promise’ is part of punishment for Israeli crimes
• Tel Aviv terms attack ‘severe, dangerous escalation’; Jordan, Iraq, Lebanon close their airspace

JERUSALEM: In response to the Israeli attack on Iran’s diplomatic premises in the Syrian capital, Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps (IRGC) in the early hours of Sunday morning launched “extensive” retaliatory drone and missile strikes — as part of what they called the Operation ‘True Promise’ — against “certain targets” inside Israel.

Israel’s military said the drones, which Iraqi security sources said were seen flying over the country from Iran, would take hours to reach their targets, after the IRGC announced the Operation ‘True Promise’ is part of “punishment for Israeli crimes”.

In a televised statement, Israel’s military spokesman Rear Admiral Daniel Hagari confirmed that Iran launched UAVs from its territory towards the territory of the state of Israel. “We are closely monitoring Iranian killer drones that are en route to Israel sent by Iran. This is a severe and dangerous escalation,” Rear Admiral Hagari said.

Iran had already announced retaliation for the Israeli attack on its Damascus consulate that killed seven IRGC officers on April 1. However, US President Joe Biden had warned Iran against attacking Israel after saying such a scenario appeared imminent, pledging to stand with Israel. National Security Council spokesperson Adrienne Watson said, “President Biden has been clear: our support for Israel’s security is ironclad.”

As the situation unfolds, Mr Biden is due to meet in the White House’s heavily secured situation room with his top officials including Defence Secretary Lloyd Austin, Secretary of State Antony Blinken and CIA chief Bill Burns, the White House added.

An IRGC statement issued earlier read, “In response to the Zionist regime’s numerous crimes, including the attack on the consular section of Iran’s embassy in Damascus and the martyrdom of a number of our country’s commanders and military advisors in Syria, the IRGC’s aerospace division launched tens of missiles and drones against certain targets inside the occupied territories.”

Israel’s military said sirens would sound in any threatened areas and that its defences were poised to deal with them.

Israel, Jordan, Iraq and Lebanon closed their airspace on Saturday night.

Earlier on Saturday, Iran’s state-run IRNA news agency reported that a Guards helicopter had boarded and taken into Iranian waters an Israeli-linked vessel, with 25 crew.

Israeli attacks on Gazans in recent months have already driven up tensions in the region, spreading to fronts with Lebanon and Syria and drawing long-range fire from as far away as Yemen.

Published in Dawn, April 14th, 2024

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