Iran warns of stronger response if Israel or US retaliate

Daily News Egypt
5 Min Read

Iran warned that it would escalate its military response if Israel or the US retaliated for the recent Iranian strike on Israel. The strike, conducted on Saturday night, utilised over 300 drones and missiles, marking Iran’s first direct attack on Israel and unveiling a long-standing shadow conflict.

The attack, seen as retaliation for a recent Israeli strike on an Iranian consulate in Damascus, has sparked international concern and calls for restraint.

Maj Gen Mohammad Bagheri, the chief of staff of the Iranian armed forces, delivered the warning in an address to state TV, indicating that any retaliation by Israel would trigger a significantly larger response from Iran. Bagheri also underscored Tehran’s caution to Washington, asserting that US bases would become targets if the US supported any Israeli counterattacks.

This comes as Israel’s military said it intercepted 99% of the over 300 projectiles, with only a few ballistic missiles reaching Israeli territory and causing minor damage to an airbase.

Meanwhile, Iranian Foreign Minister Hossein Amirabdollahian said, in a Sunday press conference, that his country notified the United States before launching the strike.

“Early Sunday in a message to the White House we announced that our operation would be limited and minimalistic and aimed at legitimate defence and punishing the Israeli regime,” Amirabdollahian said.

He emphasised that Iran’s attacks did not target civilians or economic areas, stating, “In our response, we defined no response against civilian targets. Our armed forces targeted no economic or populated areas.”

Amirabdollahian asserted that the goal of the strike was to punish the Israeli regime and justified it as a legitimate act of defence by Iranian forces: “Our goal in this legitimate act of defence is simply punishing the Israeli regime.”

The United Nations Security Council is expected to convene later tonight at 8:00 PM GMT to address the crisis. Israel’s Ambassador to the UN, Gilad Erdan, has reportedly requested condemnation of Iran’s actions and designation of the Iranian Revolutionary Guard Corps as a terrorist organization.

Following the attack, the Iranian Rial plummeted in response to the attack, reflecting heightened economic anxieties. At the close of the market on Saturday, 1 US dollar was going for approximately 640,000 rials. Currency exchange websites are now displaying rates exceeding 700,000 rials to the US dollar, a historic low.

International Community Divided

World leaders expressed a range of reactions. The US, Germany, Japan, France, and Britain reaffirmed their support for Israel. However, Egypt, Russia, China, Turkey, Saudi Arabia, and Qatar urged all parties to exercise restraint and avoid escalation.

The United States reiterated its support for Israel while urging caution. John Kirby, spokesperson for the National Security Council, emphasized President Biden’s commitment to preventing a “broader regional war.”

Egypt’s Foreign Ministry issued a statement calling for “maximum restraint” and highlighting the dangers of further escalation. They emphasized that the current crisis stems from previously warned-against risks, including recent Israeli operations in Gaza. Egypt reaffirmed its commitment to de-escalation efforts.

Russia’s Foreign Ministry urged all parties to exercise restraint and criticized Western members of the Security Council for failing to adequately respond to Israel’s strike on the Iranian embassy. They also acknowledged Iran’s claim of self-defence in response to the Damascus attack. Notably, Russia-Iran relations have strengthened recently, with Iran supplying drones used in the Ukraine conflict.

China expressed concern over the situation and urged relevant parties to remain calm. Turkey’s Foreign Minister held a phone call with his Iranian counterpart, conveying Turkey’s desire to avoid further escalation. Iran’s Foreign Minister reportedly assured Turkey that their “retaliatory operation” was concluded and they won’t initiate further attacks unless provoked.

Saudi Arabia expressed “deep concern” and urged all parties to exercise maximum restraint to prevent further conflict. Similarly, Qatar’s Foreign Ministry called for urgent action to de-escalate tensions.

While Jordan, Iraq, and Lebanon reopened their airspaces following the attacks, several airlines, including EgyptAir and Lufthansa, have suspended flights to and from affected cities like Amman, Beirut, and Erbil.

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