An anti-missile system operates after Iran launched drones and missiles towards Israel, as seen from Ashkelon, Israel April 14, 2024.
An anti-missile system operates after Iran launched drones and missiles towards Israel, as seen from Ashkelon, Israel April 14, 2024. Image Credit: REUTERS

Jerusalem: Iran's Revolutionary Guards said on Saturday it has launched dozens of drones and missiles against specific targets in Israel, Iranian state media quoted a statement by the elite force as saying. "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.

The attack may trigger a major escalation between the regional archenemies, with the US pledging to back Israel. Follow the latest developments from the conflict zone:

Israel 'not looking' for escalation with Iran: US

US President Joe Biden has told Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu to "think carefully" about retaliating for Iran's attacks, and Israel is not seeking to escalate the situation, a US official said Sunday.

"The Israelis made clear to us they're not looking for a significant escalation with Iran," the official told reporters on a call, adding that Biden "made very clear to the prime minister last night that we do have to think carefully and strategically about the risks of escalation."

World urges restraint after Iran's attack

World leaders urged restraint on Sunday after Israel came under an unprecedented attack from Iranian drones and missiles that drew widespread condemnation and sparked fears of a broader conflict.

It remained unclear how Israel would respond to this major escalation in the long-running covert war between the regional foes which has been further inflamed by the Gaza war raging since October 7.

Israel's top ally the United States cautioned against an escalation after the attack that was largely foiled, with the Israeli army saying 99 percent of the launches had been intercepted.

Israeli Defence Minister Yoav Gallant said that "the campaign is not over yet - we must remain alert".

Iranian President Ebrahim Raisi warned Israel against a "reckless" retaliation, saying it would face "a decisive and much stronger response".

Iran said its drone and missile attack came in response to the April 1 air strike on Tehran's consulate building in Damascus, an attack widely blamed on Israel.

Syria said Sunday Iran had exercised its "right to self-defence".

Iran's Foreign Minister Hossein Amir-Abdollahian said Tehran had notified neighbouring states ahead of Saturday's attack, stressing its aim was "to punish the Israeli regime".

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EU ministers to discuss Middle East tensions

The European Union foreign ministers will meet on Tuesday to discuss the escalation in tensions in the Middle East following Iran's strike on Israel, the bloc's foreign policy chief Josep Borrell said on Sunday.

"Following the Iranian attacks against Israel, I have called an extraordinary... meeting of EU foreign affairs ministers on Tuesday," Borrell wrote on X, formerly Twitter. "Our objective is to contribute to de-escalation and security of the region."

"The EU condemns in the strongest terms the Iranian drone and missile attacks against Israel. This is an unprecedented escalation and a threat to regional security."

"The EU reiterates its commitment to the security of Israel. In this highly tense regional situation, further escalation can be no one's interest. We call on all parties to exercise utmost restraint," he said.

US does not want to see Middle East crisis 'escalate'

The United States does not want to see an escalation of the crisis in the Middle East, a top White House official said Sunday after Israel repelled a massive missile and drone attack from Iran.

"We don't want to see this escalate," White House National Security Council spokesman John Kirby said on NBC's "Meet the Press". "We're not looking for a wider war with Iran."

Turkey calls on Iran to avoid a 'new escalation'

Turkey has called on Iran to avoid a "new escalation", after Middle East tensions soared following Tehran's unprecedented attack on Israel, a diplomatic source said on Sunday.

Turkey's Foreign Minister Hakan Fidan spoke by telephone with his Iranian counterpart "and stated that we do not wish for a new escalation in the region", the source said on condition of anonymity.

UK jets shot down Iranian drones, PM Sunak says

British Prime Minister Rishi Sunak said on Sunday that British military jets shot down drones launched by Iran in its attack on Israel.

"I can confirm that our planes did shoot down a number of Iranian attack drones," Sunak told broadcasters.

Jordan's airspace reopens for air traffic

Jordan's Civil Aviation Regulatory Commission (CARC) has announced reopening of airspace for aviation traffic. Jordan News Agency (Petra) quoted Haitham Misto, Chairman of CARC as saying that the airspace was reopened after a thorough assessment of risks, adhering to internationally recognised standards for civil aviation safety.

Lufthansa suspends flights

German airline group Lufthansa said on Sunday it was suspending flights to Amman, Beirut, Erbil and Tel Aviv at least until Monday.

The group, which includes the German flagship carrier as well as Swiss and Austrian airlines, would also ensure its flights avoided the airspace above Israel, Jordan and Iraq for the foreseeable future, it said in a statement to Reuters.

The company had already said on Friday it was suspending flights to and from Tehran until April 18 and would not use Iranian airspace during that time.

Iranian airports cancel flights until Monday morning

Several Iranian airports including Tehran's Imam Khomeini International have cancelled flights until Monday, Iranian state media reported on Sunday.

"All flights from Tehran's Imam Khomeini International Airport have been cancelled until 6 am (0230 GMT) following an announcement by Iran's Civil Aviation Organisation," the airport's executive told the Iranian Student News Agency.

Domestic flights from Tehran's Mehrabad Airport and airports in Shiraz, Isfahan, Bushehr, Kerman, Ilam, and Sanandaj have also been cancelled until Monday morning, according to Iran's Airports and Air Navigation Company, as the country's western airspace remains off limits to flights.

Egypt denies closure of its airspace

The Egyptian government categorically denied the rumours circulated by some media outlets and social media platforms about the emergency closure of Egyptian airspace on Sunday.

The Media Centre of the Egyptian Cabinet clarified in a statement issued today that air navigation in all Egyptian airports is operating normally without any interruption.

The centre confirmed the continuation of all flights at Egyptian airports according to the usual schedules, except for some flights heading to countries that have closed their airspace due to regional events.

Regarding EgyptAir flights, the company announced the suspension of its flights to and from airports in Jordan, Iraq, and Lebanon only, due to the closure of airspace in these countries.

Qatar calls for de-escalation, restraint

The State of Qatar has expressed deep concern about the developments in the region and called on all parties to halt escalation, promote calm, and exercise maximum restraint.

In a statement on Sunday quoted by Qatar News Agency, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs urged the international community to take urgent action to defuse tension and de-escalate the situation in the region.

The ministry also reiterated the State of Qatar's commitment to supporting all regional and international efforts to achieve regional and international security and stability.

UAE calls for restraint and to halt escalation in the region

The UAE expresses its deep concern over the developments that the region has witnessed over the past few days, and has called for a halt to the escalation and to avoid exacerbating tensions and instability in the region.

In a statement released by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MoFA), the UAE called for exercising the utmost restraint in order to avoid serious repercussions, and the region being pulled into new levels of instability.

The Ministry called for resolving conflicts through dialogue and diplomatic channels, and for adhering to the rule of law and respecting the United Nations Charter. Furthermore, the Ministry called on the United Nations and the UN Security Council to fulfill their responsibilities to enhance international peace and security by resolving long-standing issues and conflicts in the region that threaten global security and stability.

World can't afford another war: UN

United Nations Secretary General Antonio Guterres called for an immediate cessation of hostilities on Sunday.

Seized of the further escalation in the continuing tensions in West Asia, the UN chief said he was deeply alarmed by the events, while urging both the countries to exercise restraint.

"I strongly condemn the serious escalation represented by the large-scale attack launched on Israel by the Islamic Republic of Iran this evening. I call for an immediate cessation of these hostilities. I am deeply alarmed about the very real danger of a devastating region-wide escalation," Guterres said in a statement.

"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. I have repeatedly stressed that neither the region nor the world can afford another war," he added.

Jordan says it intercepted flying objects

Jordan intercepted some flying objects that entered its airspace last night to ensure safety of citizens, a cabinet statement said on Sunday.

"Some shrapnel fell in multiple places during that time without causing any significant damage or any injuries to citizens," it added.

G7 leaders to discuss attack in video call

Italy has called a video meeting of G7 leaders on Sunday to discuss the Iranian attack on Israel, sources in the prime minister's office said.

The call will be held in the early afternoon, European time.

Italy currently holds the rotating G7 presidency.

Jordan, Iraq and Lebanon reopen airspace

Jordan, Lebanon and Iraq reopened their airspace on Sunday after closing it late on Saturday, both countries said on Sunday.

Jordan's state TV said the country had resumed air traffic operations, citing aviation authorities. The opening of its airspace came more than three hours earlier than scheduled.

Lebanon's Transport Minister Ali Hamie said that "we have resumed flights since 7 am (0400 GMT), and we're monitoring the situation."

The international airport in Beirut "has resumed its work," he added.

Iraq's aviation authority said security risks had now been overcome.

Japan strongly condemns attack, calling it 'escalation'

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 situation. We are deeply concerned and strongly condemn this sort of escalation," the statement said.

India calls for immediate de-escalation

India on Sunday expressed concerns highlighting the threat to the peace and security in the region.

lndia called for an immediate de-escalation, urging all parties to exercise restraint, refrain from violence, and return to diplomatic negotiations, the Ministry of External Affairs (MEA) said in a press release.

"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," the ministry said in a press release.

Further, MEA affirmed that they are closely monitoring the situation in the region.

China 'deeply concerned' about escalation

China is "deeply concerned" about escalating tensions in the region after Iran launched drones and missiles in a retaliatory strike against Israel, a foreign ministry spokesperson said on Sunday.

"China calls on relevant parties to remain calm and exercise restraint to avoid further escalation of tensions," the spokesperson said in a statement. The statement was posted on the ministry's website.

"China calls on the international community, especially influential countries, to play a constructive role in maintaining regional peace and stability," the spokesperson, who was also not identified, said in the statement.

Biden says US helped Israel down 'nearly all' drones

President Joe Biden said on Saturday that US forces helped take down "nearly all" the drones and missiles fired by Iran at Israel, adding that he had reaffirmed his support to Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.

Biden added in a statement that he would convene his fellow leaders of the G7 group of wealthy nations on Sunday to coordinate a "united diplomatic response" to Iran's attack.

This handout picture courtesy of the White House taken on April 13, 2024 shows USPresident Joe Biden (C) meeting with members of the National Security team regarding the unfolding missile attacks on Israel from Iran, in the White House Situation Room, in Washington, DC. Image Credit: Photo by Adam Schultz / White House/ AFP

Biden added that he had spoken to Netanyahu to "reaffirm America's ironclad commitment" to Israel's security.

No US forces or facilities had come under attack from Iran, he said.

United Airlines cancels three Middle East flights

United Airlines has cancelled at least three flights headed to or departing from the Middle East amid the ongoing conflict unfolding between Iran and Israel.

"We are closely monitoring the situation and will make decisions on upcoming flights with a focus on the safety of our customers and crews,” the airline said.

GCC calls for self-restraint

The Secretary General of the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) Jasem Mohamed Albudaiwi, in a statement issued today, emphasised the importance of maintaining regional and global security and stability in light of recent developments in the Middle East.

In a statement carried by the Saudi Press Agency (SPA), he urged all parties involved to exercise maximum self-restraint to prevent further escalation that could threaten regional stability and civilian safety.

Albudaiwi stressed the need for collaborative efforts and diplomatic solutions to resolve disputes and ensure regional security. He underscored the crucial role of the international community in supporting these peace and stability efforts, and highlighted the potential consequences of further escalation.

The statement concluded with a call for all relevant parties to commit to upholding regional and global security and peace.

Jordan extends airspace closure

The Jordanian Civil Aviation Regulatory Authority (CARC) has announced the extension of the closure of Jordanian airspace until 11am local time. This came in a statement following an earlier announcement statement issued yesterday.

In the meantime, Jordan's Minister of Government Communications Muhannad Mubaideen has denied allegations made about declaring a state of emergency in Jordan. According to a statement to the Jordanian News Agency (Petra), Mubaideen said that everything that was reported by some media outlets about declaring a state of emergency in Jordan is "completely untrue".

Mubaideen stressed the need for all media outlets to be accurate, warning that all legal means will be resorted to whoever spreads any rumours or allegations that are not based on facts and do not verify the accuracy of the information.

Saudi Arabia expresses deep concern

The Saudi Ministry of Foreign Affairs has expressed the Kingdom's deep concern over the military escalation developments in the region and its serious repercussions.

The Kingdom urged all parties to exercise maximum restraint and to protect the region and its people from the dangers of war, according to the Saudi Press Agency (SPA).

The ministry reaffirmed the Kingdom's stance, urging the Security Council to fulfill its responsibility in maintaining international peace and security. This region is crucial for global peace and security, and the Council must act to prevent the crisis from escalating, which would have grave consequences if it expands, the Saudi Ministry added.

Lebanon closes airspace

The Lebanese Ministry of Public Works and Transport has announced an immediate and temporary closure of the nation’s airspace in response to the ongoing regional developments. The decision, effective from 1:00 am to 7:00 am 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.

UN calls for emergency meet

The UN Security Council will hold an emergency meeting on Sunday over Iran's drone and missile attack on Israel, the body's president said. The meeting is aiming to be held at 4:00 pm (2000 GMT) on Sunday and is at Israel's request, a spokesperson for Malta, which holds the rotating presidency this month, told the media on Saturday evening. (Reported by news agency AFP)

Iraq closes airspace

Iraq has announced the closure of its airspace, coinciding with the Iranian strike against Israel. The closure is effective from 11:30 pm local time (2030 GMT) on Saturday to 05:30 am local time (0230 GMT) on Sunday, the Iraqi Aviation Authority said, indicating that this suspension might be prolonged if necessary.

Biden, Netanyahu speak by phone after attack

US President Joe Biden and Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu spoke by telephone on Saturday night, the White House said, after Iran launched a retaliatory drone and missile attack on Israel. The White House said it would provide a summary of the call. (Reported by news agency Reuters)

EgyptAir suspends flights to Jordan, Iraq, Lebanon

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.

Iran warns US to 'stay away' from conflict with Israel

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 rogue Israeli regime, from which the US MUST STAY AWAY!."

Demonstrators wave Iran and Palestinian flags as they gather at Palestine Square in Tehran on April 14, 2024, after Iran launched a drone and missile attack on Israel.
Demonstrators wave Iran and Palestinian flags as they gather at Palestine Square in Tehran on April 14, 2024, after Iran launched a drone and missile attack on Israel. Image Credit: AFP

US Embassy in Jerusalem directs all US employees to shelter in place

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

"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.

No word of casualties so far in Israel

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.

Jordanian jets shoot down dozens of drones

Jordanian jets downed dozens of Iranian drones flying across northern and central Jordan heading to Israel, two regional security sources said.

The sources said the drones were brought down in the air on the Jordanian side of the Jordan Valley and were heading in the direction of Jerusalem. Others were intercepted close to the Iraqi-Syrian border. They gave no further details.

US military shoots down Iranian drone aircraft

The US military has shot down Iranian drone aircraft headed toward Israel, three US officials said, without disclosing how many drones were shot down or the precise locations.

Britain says RAF jets deployed to intercept any airborne attacks

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.

Iran warns Jordan over any moves to support Israel

Iran is watching Jordan for any moves in support of Israel during Tehran's retaliatory attacks, warning the country may become the "next target", a military source told the semi-official news agency Fars on Sunday.

"A military informed source said (we) are closely monitoring Jordan's movements during the punitive attacks ... and if they participate in any possible action (to back Israel), they will be the next target," Fars reported.

Israel puts residents in some areas on impact standby

Israel's military put the northern part of the occupied Golan Heights as well as Nevatim, Dimona and Eilat on standby for possible impact from Iranian drone launches early on Sunday, instructing residents to stay close to bomb shelters.

Iran warns countries against allowing Israeli attacks via airspace

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.

Drones seen flying over Iraq’s Sulaymaniya

Two security sources in Iraq said dozens of drones had been spotted flying from Iran toward Israel over Iraqi airspace in what Iranian Press TV called "extensive drone strikes" by the Revolutionary Guards.

Iraq announced late on Saturday it was closing its airspace and suspending all air traffic.

"Iraq's airspace has been closed and air traffic has been halted", Transport Minister Razzak Al Saadawi told state news agency INA. The Civil Aviation Authority said the closure would last from 11:30pm (2030 GMT) until 5:30am (0230 GMT).

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'We are prepared for any scenario'

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu had said earlier on Saturday that Israel was prepared for a "direct attack from Iran".

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

Drones equipped with heavy explosives

A retired Israeli general, Amos Yadlin, told the country's Channel 12 news that the Iranian drones were equipped with 20kg of explosives each.

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

Israel and neighbouring Jordan, which lies between Iraq and Israel, said they were closing their airspace on Saturday night.

Israel to close airspace

Israel's airport authority said its airspace will be closed from 12:30am Sunday (2130 GMT Saturday).

"In accordance with the guidance of the security system, starting at (12:30am) the airspace of the state of Israel will be closed to international and domestic flights," the statement said.

Israel El Al Airlines has said that it cancelled 15 flights scheduled for Saturday and Sunday, the carrier said on Saturday as hostilities with Iran surged and Israel closed its airspace as a precaution.

Foreign destinations affected include Paris, Rome, Barcelona, Milan, Bucharest, Sofia, Athens, Dubai and Moscow, the El Al statement said.

Lebanon closes airspace

Lebanon closed its airspace and suspended air traffic late Saturday.

"Lebanese airspace has been closed to all aircraft... temporarily and as a precaution", Ali Hamie posted on X, adding that the measure would be in effect from 2200 GMT on Saturday until 0400 GMT on Sunday.

White House confirms the attack

Meanwhile, the White House has confirmed that Iran has begun an airborne attack against Israel.

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

British PM condemns the attack

British Prime Minister Rishi Sunak said he condemned Iran's "reckless" attack against Israel, which he said showed that it was "intent on sowing chaos in its own backyard".

"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," Sunak said in a statement.

"The UK will continue to stand up for Israel's security and that of all our regional partners, including Jordan and Iraq."

France condemns strikes

France's Foreign Minister Stephane Sejourne 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.