As it happened: Iran attacks Israel with 300 drones, missiles; warns against retaliation

Multiple countries reopened their airspaces after the closure on Saturday night as world leaders condemned the 'dangerous' escalation

By Agencies

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An anti-missile system operates after Iran launched drones and missiles towards Israel. Photo: Reuters
An anti-missile system operates after Iran launched drones and missiles towards Israel. Photo: Reuters

Published: Sun 14 Apr 2024, 12:40 AM

Last updated: Sun 14 Apr 2024, 4:43 PM

Iran launched a swarm of explosive drones and fired missiles at Israel late on Saturday, April 14, in its first direct attack on Israeli territory, risking a major escalation as the United States pledged "ironclad" backing for Israel.

Iran vowed retaliation for what it called an Israeli strike on its Damascus consulate on April 1 that killed seven Revolutionary Guards officers including two senior commanders. Israel neither confirmed nor denied responsibility for the attack.

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US President Joe Biden, who on Friday warned Iran against attacking Israel after saying such a scenario appeared imminent, pledged to stand with Israel against Iran, the White House said.

International bodies like the NATO and UN condemned the attack, while many countries called for restraint. After the attacks, Iran warned Israel against any retaliation by saying there would be a 'much larger response'.

Jordan, Iraq, Lebanon and Israel reopened their airspaces after temporarily closing them following the attacks. Airlines based in the UAE that had earlier cancelled or rerouted flights due to the attack, announced they would be resuming operations as scheduled.

4.10pm: UAE airlines to resume flights

With airspaces in the region reopening, airlines based in the UAE are resuming scheduled operations. Several flights to and from the UAE had to be cancelled, while others were rerouted as Iran launched a missile and drone attack against Israel.

Iraq, Jordan, Lebanon and Israel reopened their airspaces after temporarily closing them following the attack.

3.45pm: Iran says 'neighbours' were notified

Iran notified its neighbours of its retaliatory strikes on Israel 72 hours in advance, Foreign Minister Hossein Amirabdollahian said on Sunday.

"About 72 hours prior to our operations, we informed our friends and neighbours in the region that Iran's response against Israel was certain, legitimate, and irrevocable," Amirabdollahian said at a press conference.

3.40pm: Israel strikes Hezbollah site

Israel struck a Hezbollah site in Lebanon's east near the Syrian border, the Israeli army and a source from the Iran-backed group said, as tensions soared after Iran directly attacked Israel.

The Hezbollah source told AFP that "the Israeli strike targeted an area... near Baalbek and targeted a two-storey building belonging to Hezbollah," adding there were no casualties.

3pm: Iran warns Israel against retaliation

Iran warned Israel and the United States on Sunday of a "much larger response" if there is any retaliation for its mass drone and missile attack on Israeli territory overnight, as Israel said "the campaign is not over yet".

The threat of open warfare erupting between the arch Middle East foes and dragging in the United States has put the region on edge as Washington said America did not seek conflict with Iran but would not hesitate to protect its forces and Israel.

1.38pm: NATO condemns Iran attack

NATO on Sunday condemned Iran's overnight attack on Israel as "escalation" of regional unrest and urged restraint on all sides.

"We condemn Iran's overnight escalation, call for restraint, and are monitoring developments closely. It is vital that the conflict in the Middle East does not spiral out of control," spokesperson Farah Dakhlallah said.

1.23pm: Egypt denies closure of airspace

Egypt categorically denied the rumours about the emergency closure of Egyptian airspace on Sunday. All Egyptian airports is operating normally without any interruption, according to official statement.

All flights at Egyptian airports are running according to the usual schedules, except for some flights heading to countries that have closed their airspace due to regional events.

1.10pm: Iranian domestic flights cancelled

Tehran's Mehrabad airport and airports in several other Iranian cities have cancelled domestic flights until Monday morning due to Middle East tensions, the semi-official Mehr news agency reported on Sunday, as the country's western airspace remains off limits to flights.

1.04pm: Russia expresses extreme concern

Russia's foreign ministry expressed "extreme concern over another dangerous escalation" in the Middle East on Sunday and called for restraint after Iranian strikes on Israel.

"We urge all the involved parties to show restraint. We are counting on the regional states to solve the existing problems with political and diplomatic means," the ministry said in a statement.

12.40pm: UAE calls for restraint

The UAE called for exercising the utmost restraint to avoid serious repercussions, and the region being pulled into new levels of instability.

In a statement, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs said that the UAE expressed its deep concern over the developments that the region has witnessed over the past few days. It has called for a halt to the escalation to avoid exacerbating tensions and instability in the region.

12.24pm: 'Operation successful', says Iran

The Iranian army said Sunday its drone and missile attack on Israel, in retaliation for a deadly strike on Iran's Damascus consulate, has "achieved all its objectives".

The retaliatory attack targeted an "intelligence centre" and the air base from which Tehran says the Israeli F-35 jets took off to strike the Damascus consulate.

"We see this operation as complete, and this operation has ended in our opinion," Mohammad Bagheri, the Iranian armed forces' chief of staff, said.

11.40am: Indian embassy issues safety advisory

The Indian embassy in Israel on Sunday issued an advisory to its citizens in Israel to stay calm and adhere to the safety protocols issued by the local authorities. The embassy further highlighted that they are closely monitoring the situation and are in touch with the Israeli authorities.

10.37am: Iran warns US

Iran has sent a message to the US via Switzerland warning that its bases will be targeted if Washington backs Israel's retaliation.

The Revolutionary Guards commander says Tehran will retaliate against any Israeli attack on its interests, officials or citizens.

10.20am: France helped Israeli military

Israel's chief military spokesperson said that France was among the countries involved in defending against Iran's overnight attack on Israel.

"France has very good technology, jets, radar - and I know they were contributing in patrolling airspace," he said, adding that he did not have exact details on whether French jets had shot down any of the missiles launched by Iran.

9.56am: Iraq reopens airspace

Iraq reopened it airspace on Sunday after closing it late on Saturday. Iraq's aviation authority said security risks had now been overcome.

Iran launched explosive drones and fired missiles at Israel late on Saturday in its first direct attack on Israeli territory, a retaliatory strike that raised the threat of a wider regional conflict.

9.27am: Jordan reopens airspace

Jordan reopened its airspace after closing it late on Saturday after Iran launched drone and missile attacks against Israel, state TV said on Sunday, citing Jordanian aviation authorities.

9.15am: Emirates cancels flights

Due to the ongoing regional tension and airspace disruption, Dubai-based Emirates announced flight adjustments on Sunday.

In a statement, the airline spokesperson said: “Following recent airspace closures, Emirates has cancelled some flights and rerouted others. We are closely monitoring the situation and are making all efforts to ensure minimal disruption to customers, while assisting impacted passengers. Emirates advises customers departing or arriving at Dubai International Airport to check their flight status on for the latest information regarding their flights.”

9.03am: Japan condemns Iranian attack

Japan strongly condemned a retaliatory attack by Iran on Israel, calling it an escalation of events and saying it was deeply concerned at the situation, in a statement released by the foreign minister on Sunday.

"This attack is one that further worsens the current Middle East situation. We are deeply concerned and strongly condemn this sort of escalation," the statement said.

9am: Israel reopens airspace

Israel reopened its airspace as of 8:30 a.m. on Sunday, the country's airports authority said after an overnight attack by hundreds of Iranian missiles and drones.

It said flight schedules from Tel Aviv were expected to be affected and travellers should check flight times.

8.30am: Israel shot down 99% of 300 missiles and drones

Of 300 drones and missiles which were fired by Iran overnight, 99% were shot down, the Israeli military said on Sunday, adding that the armed forces remained fully functional and were discussing follow-up options.

In a televised briefing, chief miliary spokesperson Rear Admiral Daniel Hagari deemed Iran's actions "very grave" and said they "push the region toward escalation".

8.28am: China expresses 'deep concern'

Beijing expressed "deep concern" on Sunday over Iran's missile and drone attack on Israel, a Chinese foreign ministry spokesman said.

"China expresses deep concern over the current escalation and calls on relevant parties to exercise calm and restraint to prevent further escalations," the unnamed spokesman said.

7.05am: Biden issues statement

The White House released a statement from US President Joe Biden condemning Iran's retaliatory drone and missile attack on Israel late on Saturday. Biden said:

"I condemn these attacks in the strongest possible terms. At my direction, to support the defense of Israel, the US military moved aircraft and ballistic missile defense destroyers to the region over the course of the past week. Thanks to these deployments and the extraordinary skill of our service members, we helped Israel take down nearly all of the incoming drones and missiles."

I've just spoken with Prime Minister Netanyahu to reaffirm America's ironclad commitment to the security of Israel

The US President will convene G7 leaders to coordinate a united diplomatic response to Iran's "brazen attack".

6.30am: India calls for restraint

Amid escalating tensions in the Middle East, India issued a statement pushing for "immediate de-escalation".

The External Affairs ministry said: "We are seriously concerned at the escalation of hostilities between Israel and Iran which threatens the peace and security in the region.

"We call for immediate de-escalation, exercise of restraint, stepping back from violence and return to the path of diplomacy. We are closely monitoring the evolving situation. Our Embassies in the region are in close touch with Indian community. It is vital that security and stability are maintained in the region."

6.20am: A look at Israel's defence system

Reuters file
Reuters file

Saturday's drone and ballistic missile attack by Iran posed a fresh challenge for Israel’s air defence system, which has already been fielding incoming attacks during a six-months-and-counting war against Hamas.

Here’s a closer look at Israel’s multilayered air-defence system:

The Arrow: This system developed with the US is designed to intercept long-range missiles, including the types of ballistic missiles Iran said it launched on Saturday.

David’s Sling: Also developed with the US, it is meant to intercept medium-range missiles, such as those possessed by Hezbollah in Lebanon.

Patriot: This American-made system is the oldest member of Israel’s missile-defence system – used during the First Gulf War in 1991 — and now used to shoot down aircraft, including drones.

Iron Dome: This system, developed by Israel with US backing, specialises in shooting down short-range rockets. It has intercepted thousands of rockets since it was activated early last decade — including thousands of interceptions during the current war against Hamas and Hezbollah. Israel says it has a success rate of over 90%.

6.03am: A look at Iran's missile capabilities

Reuters file
Reuters file

Ballistic missiles are an important part of the arsenal at Tehran's disposal. According to the US Office of the Director of National Intelligence, Iran is armed with the largest number of ballistic missiles in the region. Here are some details:

  • Semi-official Iranian news outlet ISNA published a graphic this week showing nine Iranian missiles it said could reach Israel. These included the 'Sejil', capable of flying at more than 17,000km per hour and with a range of 2,500km, the 'Kheibar' with a range of 2,000km, and the 'Haj Qasem', which has a range of 1,400km and is named after Quds Force commander Qasem Soleimani, who was killed in a US drone strike in Baghdad four years ago, ISNA said.
  • Iran, a major producer of drones, said in August it had built an advanced homemade drone named Mohajer-10 with an operational range of 2,000km and capable of flying for up to 24 hours with a payload of up to 300kg.
  • Iran says its ballistic missiles are an important deterrent and retaliatory force against the United States, Israel and other potential regional targets. It denies seeking nuclear weapons.
  • Last June, Iran presented what officials described as its first domestically made hypersonic ballistic missile, the official IRNA news agency reported. Hypersonic missiles can fly at least five times faster than the speed of sound and on a complex trajectory, which makes them difficult to intercept.

5.47am: Jordan extends airspace closure, Egypt suspends flights

The Jordanian Civil Aviation Regulatory Authority (CARC) has announced the extension of the closure of Jordanian airspace until 11am local time (12pm UAE time).

Meanwhile, EgyptAir has decided to suspend its flights to and from airports of Jordan, Iraq, and Lebanon due to regional tensions and in light of the closure of airspace in these countries, a statement by Egypt's national carrier said. According to the statement, the suspension is until further notice.

For a full list of countries that announced airspace closures, click here.

5.35am: Netanyahu speaks to Biden after Israeli ministerial meetings

Photo: X
Photo: X

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu spoke to US President Joe Biden early on Sunday at the conclusion of meetings by Israel's war cabinet and security cabinet to discuss hostilities with Iran, Netanyahu's office said.

The White House said it would provide a summary of the call.

5.04am: Israel requests emergency UN Security Council meeting on Iran

The UN Security Council will hold an emergency meeting Sunday over Iran's unprecedented drone and missile attack on Israel, the body's president said.

Israel called for the meeting on Saturday to condemn the attack and designate the Iranian Revolutionary Guard Corps a terrorist organisation.

"The Iranian attack is a serious threat to global peace and security and I expect the Council to use every means to take concrete action against Iran," Gilad Erdan, Israel's ambassador to the United Nations, wrote in a post on X.

A spokesperson for Malta, which holds the rotating presidency this month, told the press the Security Council was aiming for the meeting to be held at 4pm (8pm GMT) on Sunday.

4.50am: Israeli military signals end of Iran threat, revises shelter standby

Israel's military said on Sunday that it was not advising any residents of the country to prepare to take shelter, revising an earlier alert in what appeared to signal the end of the threat seen from incoming Iranian missiles and drones.

4.44am: Celebrations on the streets

Thousands of Iranians took to the streets of Iran early Sunday in a show of support for the unprecedented drone and missile attack under way against arch foe Israel.

A mural saying "the next slap is fiercer" was unveiled in the square where a huge banner has hung for days calling, in Hebrew, for Israelis to "take shelter".

Demonstrators waved Iranian and Palestinian national flags alongside banners reading "God's victory is near". Shouting slogans and cheering, they lit flares, kissed bullet shell replicas, and held up posters of senior military commanders.

Check out the images below:

4.37am: Iran launched more than 200 drones, missiles in ongoing salvo

Iran has launched more than 200 drones and missiles at Israel since Saturday, the Israeli military said, describing many of the incoming threats as having been intercepted away from Israel's borders but adding that the salvo was ongoing.

The official IRNA news agency said the attack had dealt "heavy blows" to an air base in the Negev desert, but the Israeli army said there had only been minor damage.

A small number of the dozens of ground-to-ground Iranian missiles struck Israel, wounding a girl and causing light damage to a military installation in the south, armed forces spokesperson Rear Admiral Daniel Hagari said early on Sunday.

4.33am: Saudi Arabia expresses deep concern

Saudi Arabia expressed the Kingdom's deep concern regarding military escalations in the region and the seriousness of their repercussions, a statement from the Kingdom's Foreign Ministry said early on Sunday.

The Kingdom called on all parties to exercise the 'utmost levels' of restraint and spare the region and its people the dangers of wars.

4.25am: Residents take cover amid attack

Jerusalem residents took cover on Sunday as Iran launched an unprecedented drone and missile attack on Israel. Blasts rang out across the city and explosions lit the skyline red, while residents stockpiled water and sought shelter in bunkers.

Eliyahu Barakat, a 49-year-old grocery shop owner in Jerusalem's Mamilla neighbourhood, said many people visited his shop to stock up on supplies, "water, food, everything." He added: "Normally we close at one o'clock but we will stay open."

Michael Uzan, a 52-year-old dentist, said his family had gathered at his father-in-law's house to be together. They followed the government's instructions, bought non-perishable food and were ready to head to the apartment building's bunker.

He said he expected everyday life to be disrupted over the coming days. "No work tomorrow. For children, schools are closed. I have a daughter who was supposed to take an important exam tomorrow, but everything is cancelled," he said.

4.17am: Jordan airforce shoots down Iranian drones flying to Israel

Jordan's air force intercepted and shot down dozens of Iranian drones that violated its airspace and were heading to Israel, two regional security sources said.

Residents in several cities in the northern part of the country near Syria and central and southern areas heard heavy aerial activity.

In neighbourhoods south of the capital Amman, 60km from Jerusalem, several downed drones were seen. Residents could be seen gathered around the remnants of one suspected large drone that fell in a commercial area of the city's Marj al Hamam suburb.

4.13am: UN chief condemns 'serious escalation' by Iran

Photo: AFP
Photo: AFP

UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres condemned Iran's drone attacks targeting Israel on Saturday as a "serious escalation" and called on all sides to show restraint to avoid a devastating regional conflagration.

"I am deeply alarmed about the very real danger of a devastating region-wide escalation. I urge all parties to exercise maximum restraint to avoid any action that could lead to major military confrontations on multiple fronts in the Middle East," he said.

4.01am: GCC Secretary-General calls for 'maximum restraint'

The Gulf Cooperation Council has stressed the importance of preserving regional and global stability in light of "recent and rapid developments in the Middle East".

In a statement, Secretary General Jasem Mohamed Albudaiwi called on all parties to exercise "maximum self-restraint" to prevent any further escalation that could threaten the safety of people in the region.

He called on all parties to adopt diplomacy as an effective means to settle disputes and underscored the role of the international community in supporting peace efforts to avoid further escalation.

3.46am: Russia postpones UAE, Egypt flights

A number of flights to the United Arab Emirates and Egypt will be postponed, Russia's Aeroflot airline said. Another flight from Moscow to Tehran which took off on Saturday evening will land in Makhachkala in Russia's Dagestan region instead. The return flight from Tehran to Moscow has been cancelled, it added.

The Russian flagship carrier also said it was postponing until at least later on Sunday flights from Moscow to Dubai and Abu Dhabi in the UAE, Moscow and St. Petersburg to Hurghada in Egypt, and from Moscow to Sharm El-Sheikh in Egypt.

3.38am: Berlin warns Iran strikes on Israel could plunge region 'into chaos'

Germany warned Sunday that an Iranian drone and missile attack on Israel could "plunge an entire region into chaos", and urged Tehran to halt the strikes.

"We condemn the ongoing attack — which could plunge an entire region into chaos — in the strongest possible terms," said German Foreign Minister Annalena Baerbock on X, formerly Twitter.

"Iran and its proxies must stop this immediately," she said, adding that Berlin stands "firmly by Israel".

3.31am: Embassy in Jerusalem directs all US employees to shelter in place

Objects are seen in the sky above Jerusalem after Iran launched drones and missiles towards Israel. Photo: Reuters
Objects are seen in the sky above Jerusalem after Iran launched drones and missiles towards Israel. Photo: Reuters

The US Embassy in Jerusalem on Saturday told all its government employees to shelter in place until further notice, according to a security alert posted Saturday.

"In response to security incidents and without advance notice, the US Embassy may further restrict or prohibit US government employees and their family members from travelling to certain areas of Israel (including the Old City of Jerusalem) and the West Bank," the statement said.

3.11am: Britain deploys RAF jets to intercept airborne attacks in Middle East

British Royal Air Force jets in the Middle East "will intercept any airborne attacks within range of our existing missions, as required" after Iran targeted Israel with drones and missiles, the country's Ministry of Defence said late Saturday.

"In response to increased Iranian threats and the growing risk of escalation in the Middle East, the UK Government has been working with partners across the region to encourage de-escalation and prevent further attacks," the statement added.

3.08am: US forces 'shot down drones' launched at Israel from Iran

American forces have shot down drones launched at Israel by Iran in retaliation for a deadly strike on its consulate in Damascus, US media reported Saturday.

The reports — which cited unnamed US officials — did not specify where or how many of the drones were shot down, while an Israeli official earlier said that more than 100 drones had been launched by Tehran.

3.05am: No word of casualties so far from Iranian drones in Israel, medics say

Israel's Magen David Adom ambulance service said early on Sunday that it had received no word of any casualties from Iranian drones launched at the country, many of which local media described as having been intercepted.

2.57am: Sirens, explosions heard throughout Israel; TV shows interceptions

A video grab from AFPTV shows explosions lighting up the sky in Hebron during the attack. Photo: AFP
A video grab from AFPTV shows explosions lighting up the sky in Hebron during the attack. Photo: AFP

Israel's military said it was sounding sirens in locations throughout the country early on Sunday and a Reuters witness in Jerusalem heard explosions from what local TV showed were aerial interceptions of drones launched by Iran.

AFP journalists also reported several blasts were heard in Jerusalem at around 1.45am on Sunday (10.45pm GMT Saturday) and sirens sounded shortly afterwards.

An AFP journalist also heard blasts from Jericho in the occupied West Bank, while the Israeli army said it had sounded sirens in the southern Negev region.

2.46am: World reacts to 'unprecedented' attack

The European Union's foreign affairs chief Josep Borrell condemned the strikes as "an unprecedented escalation and a grave threat to regional security," in a message on X.

Italy's Foreign Minister Antonio Tajani said his country was following the situation "with attention and concern" and was "ready to manage any kind of scenario".

Dutch Prime Minister Mark Rutte also addressed the "very worrying situation in the Middle East". He said: "Earlier today, the Netherlands and other countries sent a loud and clear message to Iran to refrain from attacking Israel. The Netherlands strongly condemns Iran's attacks on Israel. Further escalation must be prevented. ... We continue to monitor developments very closely."

Danish Foreign Minister Lars Lokke Rasmussen stated Denmark "strongly condemned" Iran's announced attack on Israel. "I urge everyone to show restraint and deescalate the situation. Iran’s destabilising role in the Middle East is unacceptable — and so is this attack."

A statement released by Mexico's foreign ministry said: "The government of Mexico expresses deep concern over Iran's attack against Israeli territory, and the impact that this could have on thousands of human lives. Mexico condemns the use of force in international relations, and calls on the parties to self-restrain and seek solutions peacefully to avoid a more general conflict in the Middle East. Mexico also emphasises the importance of respecting international law for the sake of international peace and security."

2.40am: UAE flights impacted, airlines confirm

File photo
File photo

Some flights to and from the UAE have been impacted as multiple countries in the region closed their airspaces temporarily. Two Flydubai flights that took off for Amman, Jordan, and Tel Aviv, Israel, had to return to Dubai as a result.

Abu Dhabi-based Etihad Airways said it is re-routing a number of its European and North American flights on Sunday, April 14, to overfly Saudi Arabia and Egypt following “notification of the closure of airspace over Israel, Jordan and Iraq”.

Read the full report here.

2.36am: Iran's UN mission tells US to 'stay away' from conflict

The United States must stay away from the conflict between Iran and Israel, Iran's mission to the United Nations said on social media platform X on Sunday, warning Tehran's response would be more severe if Israel retaliates.

" ... Iran’s military action was in response to the Zionist regime’s aggression against our diplomatic premises in Damascus. The matter can be deemed concluded," the mission said on X.

"However, should the Israeli regime make another mistake, Iran’s response will be considerably more severe. It is a conflict between Iran and the... Israeli regime, from which the US must stay away."

2.27am: Lebanon's Hezbollah fires rockets towards Israel

More Iran allies in the region have joined the attack with Lebanon's Hezbollah movement announcing rocket fire at Israeli positions in the annexed Golan Heights.

2.20am: Biden returns to Washington as Iran launches attack on Israel

US President Joe Biden boards Marine One in Delaware as he returns to the White House. Photo: AFP
US President Joe Biden boards Marine One in Delaware as he returns to the White House. Photo: AFP

US President Joe Biden returned to Washington on Saturday to consult with his national security team as Iran launched a retaliatory drone and missile attack on Israel.

Biden cut his weekend trip to Delaware short to monitor developments and meet with Cabinet members and other top US officials, the White House said.

"President Biden has been clear: our support for Israel’s security is ironclad. The United States will stand with the people of Israel and support their defence against these threats from Iran," White House National Security Council spokesperson Adrienne Watson said in a statement after the Iran attack began.

2.15am: Jordan denies kingdom announced a state of emergency

Jordan's government spokesperson denied the kingdom announced a state of emergency and said media reports it did were baseless and "there was no cause for concern among its citizens."

Minister of Government Communications Muhannad Mubaideen told state news agency Petra the government would take legal measures against any outlet that spread rumours or accusations that are not verified.

2.10am: France FM condemns Iran strikes on Israel as threat to stability

France's Foreign Minister Stephane Sejourne on Saturday condemned Iran's drone strikes on Israel as a "new level" in the threat to security.

"France condemns with the greatest firmness the attack launched by Iran against Israel," he said on the platform X.

"In deciding to take this unprecedented action, Iran has reached a new level of destabilisation and is risking a military escalation," he added, reiterating France's commitment to Israel's security.

2.05am: Yemen rebels launch drones at Israel in coordination with Iran

Yemen's Houthi rebels launched multiple drones at Israel in coordination with Iran, security firm Ambrey said late Saturday, adding that the projectiles were likely timed to reach Israel simultaneously.

"Unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVS) were reportedly launched by the Houthis toward Israel. The UAVs were launched in coordination with Iran," the company said. "Israeli ports are assessed to be potential targets", it added, and warned of "collateral damage" to shipping.

2am: Ballistic missiles launched, says Iran

An Iranian woman in Tehran watches an Iranian news TV channel covering news of the attack on Israel. Photo: AFP
An Iranian woman in Tehran watches an Iranian news TV channel covering news of the attack on Israel. Photo: AFP

Iran's state news agency cited a source saying its military had also launched a wave of ballistic missiles. Israel's military also said missiles were fired, but there was no immediate report of these striking in Israel.

1.58am: Egypt air defences on maximum alert

The Egyptian foreign ministry, in a statement early on Sunday, called for the exercise of the "utmost restraint" to spare the region and its people from further factors of instability and tension.

Egypt's air defences were on "maximum alert" after Iran launched a drone and missile attack on Israel, Al-Qahera News, a TV channel close to the intelligence services, reported late Saturday.

"A crisis cell ... is closely monitoring the situation and submitting reports to President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi hour by hour," the channel said, citing a senior security official.

1.54am: Sirens sounded in Israel kibbutz near Lebanon border

The Israeli army said it sounded sirens in a kibbutz near the Lebanon border early Sunday, after Iran launched a drone attack on Israel.

"Sirens sounded in Kibbutz Snir, northern Israel," the army said in a statement.

1.53am: Indian airlines impacted

According to news agency ANI, Indian airlines were altering flight paths for Europe and the Middle East due to escalating regional tensions between Iran and Israel. Two major carriers Air India and Vistara opted to avoid Iranian airspace following the Indian government's advisory urging citizens to steer clear of travel to Iran. As a result, they are now taking longer routes to ensure passenger safety and operational stability.

1.49am: Lebanon announces temporary closure of airspace

The Lebanese Ministry of Public Works and Transport announced an immediate and temporary closure of the nation's airspace in response to the ongoing regional developments.

The decision, effective from 1am to 7am, on Sunday, April 14, encompasses all incoming, outgoing, and transit flights over Lebanon.

As a result, all air traffic at Beirut's Rafik Hariri International Airport has been suspended for the duration mentioned.

The Lebanese authorities have promised to review the airspace closure continuously and adjust measures based on the developments.

1.41am: Iran warns countries against allowing Israeli attacks via airspace or territory

Iranian Defence Minister Mohammad Reza Ashtiani warned that Tehran will firmly respond to any country that "opens its airspace or territory for attacks on Iran by Israel", Iran's semi-official Mehr news agency reported on Sunday.

1.38am: Netanyahu holding Israel war cabinet meeting

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu's war cabinet is meeting in Tel Aviv, his office said Sunday, after Iran launched a drone attack on Israel.

"Netanyahu is convening the War Management Cabinet at this time, in Kirya in Tel Aviv," the prime minister's office said.

Photo: AFP/ Israeli Prime Minister's Office
Photo: AFP/ Israeli Prime Minister's Office

1.34am: UK PM Sunak condemns 'reckless' Iran strikes on Israel

UK Prime Minister Rishi Sunak condemned as "reckless" late Saturday Iran's drone and missile attack on Israel, adding that Britain would "continue to stand up for Israel's security".

"I condemn in the strongest terms the Iranian regime’s reckless attack against Israel. These strikes risk inflaming tensions and destabilising the region. Iran has once again demonstrated that it is intent on sowing chaos in its own backyard.

"The UK will continue to stand up for Israel’s security and that of all our regional partners, including Jordan and Iraq. Alongside our allies, we are urgently working to stabilise the situation and prevent further escalation. No one wants to see more bloodshed," Sunak said in a statement.

1.14am: Iran Guards confirm attack under way against Israel

Iran's Revolutionary Guards confirmed early Sunday that a drone and missile attack was under way against Israel in retaliation for a deadly April 1 drone strike on its Damascus consulate.

"In response to the numerous crimes committed by the Zionist regime, including the attack on the consular section... the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps fired dozens of missiles and drones at specific targets inside the occupied territories (Israel)," state television quoted a Guards statement as saying.

Operation Honest Promise is "being carried out with the approval of the Supreme National Security Council under the supervision of the General Staff of the Armed Forces," the Guards statement said.

The April 1 strike levelled the five-storey consular annexe of the Iranian embassy in Damascus and killed seven Revolutionary Guards, two of them generals.

The Iranian flag flutters on the new Iranian consulate building after the country's consulate in Damascus was targeted in an attack on April 1. Photo: Reuters
The Iranian flag flutters on the new Iranian consulate building after the country's consulate in Damascus was targeted in an attack on April 1. Photo: Reuters

1.12am: Iran launched '100 drones and cruise missiles', some already downed

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.

1.10am: Syria on high alert

Syria put on high alert its Russian-made Pantsir ground-to-air defence systems around the capital Damascus and major bases 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 after Iran's elite Revolutionary Guards said they launched dozens of drones and missiles against specific targets in Israel.

1.05am: Countries cancel, divert flights

Israel said it was closing its airspace on Saturday night. The country's flag carrier El Al Airlines cancelled 15 flights scheduled for Saturday and Sunday, it said on Saturday. Foreign destinations affected include Paris, Rome, Barcelona, Milan, Bucharest, Sofia, Athens, Dubai and Moscow, the El Al statement said.

Kuwait Airways also took to X to state: "In view of the security situation in the region and Kuwait Airways’ concern for the safety of its passengers, it was decided to divert all incoming and outgoing flights away from areas of tension, with flights being scheduled according to their new itinerary."

12.55am: Jordan to shoot down drones violating airspace

Jordan's air defences were ready to intercept and shoot down any Iranian drones or aircraft that violate its airspace, two regional security sources said. They said the army was also in a state of high alert and radar systems were monitoring drone activity.

12.50am: Regional spillover

The Gaza war between Israel and Hamas, now in its seventh month, has driven up tensions in the region, spreading to fronts with Lebanon and Syria and drawing long-range fire at Israeli targets from as far away as Yemen and Iraq.

Earlier on Saturday, Iran's state-run IRNA news agency reported that a Guards helicopter had boarded and taken into Iranian waters the Portuguese-flagged MSC Aries.

MSC, which operates the Aries, confirmed that Iran had seized the ship and said it was working "with the relevant authorities" for its safe return and the wellbeing of its 25 crew.

Tracker shows path of seized MSC Aries in Strait of Hormuz amid Iran tensions. Photo: Reuters
Tracker shows path of seized MSC Aries in Strait of Hormuz amid Iran tensions. Photo: Reuters

12.48am: Attack on Israel to 'unfold over a number of hours'

Iran's drone attack on Israel is likely to last several hours, the White House said Saturday, while pledging to support its ally's defence against Tehran.

"This attack is likely to unfold over a number of hours," National Security Council spokesperson Adrienne Watson said in a statement, adding that "the United States will stand with the people of Israel and support their defence against these threats from Iran."

12.42am: Iraq closes airspace

Iraq has announced the closure of its airspace, coinciding with the Iranian strike against Israel.

The closure is effective from 11.30pm local time (12.30am UAE time) on Saturday to 5.30am local time (6.30am UAE time) on Sunday, the Iraqi Aviation Authority said, indicating that the suspension might be prolonged if necessary.

12.36am: Drones seen flying from direction of Iran over Iraq

A number of drones were seen flying from the direction of Iran over Iraq's Sulaymaniya province, three security sources told Reuters on Saturday.

"Dozens of drones were spotted flying from Iran in the direction of Israel over Iraqi airspace," two Iraqi security sources also told Reuters.

12.31am: Biden to meet top national security staff on Middle East

President Joe Biden will meet with national security officials and Cabinet members at the White House on Saturday afternoon to discuss events in the Middle East, the White House said as Israel reported Iran has launched a drone attack.

12.15am: Dozens of UAVs launched

Israel said on Saturday that a salvo of Iranian pilotless aircraft had been launched at it and that defence systems were poised to shoot them down or to sound sirens ordering residents in any threatened areas to take shelter.

The drones' flight time would take several hours, chief military spokesperson Rear Admiral Daniel Hagari said in a televised briefing. He confirmed media reports that "Wing of Zion", Israel's version of the US "Air Force One", was airborne, saying this was due to operational considerations.

12.05am: Israel is ready, says PM Netanyahu

Reuters file
Reuters file

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said Saturday Israel was prepared for a "direct attack from Iran" following its threats of retaliation for a deadly air strike on its Damascus consulate.

"Our defence systems are deployed, we are prepared for any scenario, both in defence and attack," he said in a televised statement, adding that Israel had the backing of the United States and "many" countries.

11.58pm: Security measures in place

Israel is closing schools nationwide over security concerns, military spokesman Daniel Hagari said on Saturday, after Iran threatened to retaliate for a deadly air strike on its Damascus consulate.

There will be "no educational activities" when the school week begins on Sunday "in light of the security situation," he said in a televised statement.

"Starting tomorrow morning and over the coming days, educational establishments, day camps, and planned trips will not take place," he said.

Israel will also limit the number of people allowed to gather outdoors to 1,000, with an even smaller number in border regions, where beaches will be closed.

(Curated by Karen Ann Monsy, Ajanta Paul, Meher Dhanjal)


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