Israel likely behind drone attack on Iranian factory, US official says

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Iran claimed to have intercepted drones striking a military industry target near the central city of Isfahan and said there were no casualties or serious damage.

The extent of the damage could not be independently determined. Iranian state media released images showing a flash in the sky and emergency vehicles on the scene.

An Israeli army spokesman declined to comment. Archenemy Israel has long said it is willing to attack Iranian targets if diplomacy fails to curb Tehran’s nuclear or missile programs, but has a policy of withholding comment on specific incidents.

Pentagon spokesman Brigadier General Patrick Ryder said no US military forces were involved in the attacks in Iran, but declined to comment further.

The Wall Street Journal first reported that US officials were pointing to an Israeli role in the attack, citing several unnamed sources. A US official, speaking on condition of anonymity, told Reuters it appeared Israel was involved. Several other US officials declined to comment, beyond saying Washington played no role.

Tehran did not formally attribute blame for what Foreign Minister Hossein Amirabdollahian called a “cowardly” attack aimed at creating “insecurity” in Iran. But state television carried comments from a lawmaker, Hossein Mirzaie, saying there was “strong speculation” that Israel was behind it.

The attack came amid tension between Iran and the West over Tehran’s nuclear activity and its supply of weapons, including long-range “suicide drones,” for Russia’s war in Ukraine, as well as months of anti-government demonstrations in the country.

The extent of the damage could not be independently confirmed. Iran’s Defense Ministry said the blast caused only minor damage and no casualties.

“Such actions will not affect the determination of our experts to progress our peaceful nuclear work,” Amirabdollahian told reporters in televised remarks.

An Israeli attack on Iran would be the first under Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu since he returned to office last month as head of the most right-wing government in Israel’s history.

In Ukraine, which accuses Iran of supplying hundreds of drones to Russia to strike civilian targets in Ukrainian cities far from the front lines, a top aide to President Volodymyr Zelenskiy linked the incident directly to the war there.

“Explosive night in Iran,” Mykhailo Podolyak tweeted. “I warned you”.

Iran has acknowledged sending drones to Russia, but says they were sent before Moscow’s invasion of Ukraine last year. Moscow denies that its forces use Iranian drones in Ukraine, although many have been shot down and recovered there.


“At around 23:30 (2000 GMT) on Saturday night, a failed micro aerial vehicle (MAV) attack was carried out on one of the ministry’s workshop sites,” the Defense Ministry said in a statement released on state television.

He said one drone was shot down “and the other two got caught in defense traps and exploded. It only caused minor damage to the roof of a workshop building. There were no casualties.”

A military official in the region said that given the location of the attack in central Iran and the size of the drones, it was likely that the attack was carried out within Iran’s borders.

Separately, IRNA reported early on Sunday a massive fire at a motor oil factory in an industrial zone near the northwestern city of Tabriz. He later said that an oil leak caused the fire, citing a local official.

Iran has accused Israel in the past of planning attacks using agents inside Iranian territory. In July, Tehran said it had arrested a sabotage team made up of Kurdish militants working for Israel and planned to blow up a “sensitive” defense industrial center in Isfahan.

Several Iranian nuclear sites are located in Isfahan province, including Natanz, the centerpiece of Iran’s uranium enrichment program, which Iran accuses Israel of sabotaging in 2021. There have been a series of explosions and fires around military, nuclear, and Iranian industrialists in recent years.

Talks between Iran and world powers to revive a 2015 nuclear deal have been stalled since September. Under the pact, abandoned by Washington in 2018 under then-President Donald Trump, Tehran agreed to limit nuclear work in exchange for easing sanctions.

Iran’s clerical rulers have also faced internal turmoil in recent months, with a crackdown on widespread anti-establishment demonstrations prompted by the death in custody of a woman detained for allegedly violating its strict Islamic dress code.

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