Iran launches drones toward Israel; Biden condemns ‘brazen attack’

Officials with Israel’s military said on Saturday that Iran has launched several drones toward Israel.

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Israel Defense Forces spokesperson Rear Adm. Daniel Hagari said Saturday night that it would take several hours for the drones to arrive, according to The Associated Press. He added that Israel was prepared for any strikes.

The attack marked the first time Iran had ever launched a direct military assault on Israel, the AP reported.

Over 300 drones, missiles thwarted

Update 10:42 a.m. EDT April 14: On Sunday, Israel said its systems was able to thwart about 99% of over 300 drones and missiles that were launched from Iran, according to The Associated Press.

Iran launched the attack after its blamed Israel for a strike on an Iranian consular building in Syria that took place earlier in April, the AP reported. Two Iranian generals were killed in that strike.

Sunday morning, Iran said the strike attack was over, according to the AP. Israel was able to once again open its airspace.

-- Jessica Goodman, Cox Media Group National Content Desk

Iran calls attack ‘defensive measure’

Update 11:10 p.m. EDT April 13: In a statement, Iran’s foreign ministry called Saturday’s attack on Israel a “defensive measure,” The New York Times reported. The statement added that the action demonstrated Iran’s “responsible approach toward regional and international peace and security.”

Biden condemns attack in ‘strongest possible terms’

Update 10:58 p.m. EDT April 13: In a statement, President Joe Biden said that he condemned Iran’s attacks in “the strongest possible terms.”

“At my direction, to support the defense of Israel, the U.S. military moved aircraft and ballistic missile defense destroyers to the region over the course of the past week,” Biden said. “Thanks to these deployments and the extraordinary skill of our servicemembers, we helped Israel take down nearly all of the incoming drones and missiles.

Biden said he spoke with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu “to reaffirm America’s ironclad commitment” to the security of Israel.

“I told him that Israel demonstrated a remarkable capacity to defend against and defeat even unprecedented attacks,” the president said, “sending a clear message to its foes that they cannot effectively threaten the security of Israel.”

Biden said he would convene a meeting with G7 leaders on Sunday to “coordinate a united diplomatic response to Iran’s brazen attack.”

“My team will engage with their counterparts across the region. And we will stay in close touch with Israel’s leaders,” Biden said. “And while we have not seen attacks on our forces or facilities today, we will remain vigilant to all threats and will not hesitate to take all necessary action to protect our people.”

Israeli officials: 185 drones, 36 cruise missiles launched

Update 10:50 p.m. EDT April 13: The New York Times, quoting two Israeli officials, said that Iran launched 185 drones and 36 cruise missiles. Most came from Iran, but some lifted off from Iraq and Yemen, the officials said.

Iran also launched 110 surface-to-surface ballistic missiles, according to the newspaper.

UN Security Council will meet Sunday

Update 9:08 p.m. EDT April 13: The United Nations Security Council will hold an emergency meeting on Sunday at 4 p.m. EDT to discuss Iran’s attacks on Israel, The New York Times reported.

The meeting was requested in a letter by Gilad Erdan, Israel’s ambassador to the U.N., according to the newspaper.

“The attack is a severe and dangerous escalation,” Erdan wrote.

The meeting was confirmed by Vanessa Frazier, the president of the Security Council.

US Defense Secretary Austin speaks with Israeli counterpart

Update 8:52 p.m. EDT April 13: U.S. Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin spoke by telephone with Israel’s defense minister, Yoav Gallant, according to statements from both men.

Austin said in his statement that he told Gallant that “Israel could count on full U.S. support to defend Israel against any attacks by Iran and its regional proxies.”Upa

In his statement, Gallant said that he briefed Austin “about Israel’s defensive operations in the face of Iran’s attack, and emphasized that the defense establishment is prepared for any further attempts to attack the State of Israel,” The New York Times reported.

Canada’s Trudeau condemns Iran attack

Update 8:23 p.m. EDT April 13: Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau condemned Iran’s attack on Israel, according to The Washington Post. Trudeau said the attack would further destabilize the region and make efforts for peace more difficult.

“These attacks demonstrate yet again the Iranian regime’s disregard for peace and stability in the region,” Trudeau said in a statement. “We support Israel’s right to defend itself and its people from these attacks.”

‘Vast majority’ of missiles intercepted, IDF spokesperson says

Update 8:16 p.m. EDT April 13: In a news briefing early Sunday, Israel Defense Forces spokesperson Rear Adm. Daniel Hagari confirmed that more than 200 different missiles, including drones, cruise missiles and ballistic missiles, have been fired from Iraq toward Israel.

“We have already intercepted a vast majority of them,” Hagari said, adding that Israel “had assistance” from several allies.

“Our planes are still in the air intercepting targets and we are ready for any threat that will come to Israel,” Hagari said. “We will do everything we need, everything to defend the state of Israel.”

Hagari said the strikes caused minor damage to an Israeli military base but did not reveal its name, The New York Times reported.

Hagari added that “only one little girl” has been hurt so far but did not elaborate.

Iran promises ‘fierce response’ if US attacks Iran’s interests

Update 8:08 p.m. EDT April 13: Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps warned the United States against supporting Israel, The New York Times reported.

“We warn the United States terrorist government that any support or participation in attacking Iran’s interests will have a fierce response from Iran’s Armed Forces,” a second statement from the organization said.

Biden: Commitment to Israel ‘is ironclad’

Update 7:52 p.m. EDT April 13: President Joe Biden posted on social media about his meeting with National Security Council advisers.

“I just met with my national security team for an update on Iran’s attacks against Israel,” the president wrote on X, formerly known as Twitter. “Our commitment to Israel’s security against threats from Iran and its proxies is ironclad.”

UK prepared to intercept drones

Update 7:40 p.m. EDT April 13: Grant Shapps, the United Kingdom’s defense secretary, said in a statement that additional British jets and air refueling tankers have been deployed to supplement its existing operations in Iraq and Syria. He added that British jets will “intercept” airborne attacks within range of its missions in those areas.

US forces intercept, bring down Iranian drones

Update 7:11 p.m. EDT April 13: American forces have intercepted and brought down drones launched by Iran toward Israel, The Associated Press reported.

Two U.S. officials also confirmed the interceptions to CNN but did not say where they occurred and how many were brought down.

“In accordance with our ironclad commitment to Israel’s security, US forces in the region continue to shoot down Iranian-launched drones targeting Israel,” a U.S. official said, according to CNN and The New York Times. “Our forces remain postured to provide additional defensive support and to protect US forces operating in the region.”

Iran: ‘Matter can be deemed concluded’

Update 6:59 p.m. EDT April 13: Iran said its attack on Israel was a response to Israel’s strike on the Iranian consulate in the Syrian capital of Damascus. Officials said that “the matter can be deemed concluded,” CNN reported.

Iran’s Permanent Mission to the United Nations in New York said the early Sunday attack was a response to Israeli “aggression against our diplomatic premises in Damascus.”

Air raid sirens blare in Jerusalem

Update 6:53 p.m. EDT April 13: Air raid sirens and loud noises were heard in Jerusalem just before 2 a.m. local time on Sunday, The New York Times reported.

Israel’s air raid alert system sounded warnings in southern Israel, the West Bank and the Golan Heights, according to the newspaper.

France condemns drone launch

Update 6:33 p.m. EDT April 13: France on Saturday condemned “in the strongest possible terms” the Iranian strike on Israel, The New York Times reported.

“By taking such an unprecedented action, Iran has crossed a new threshold in its destabilizing actions, and runs the risk of military escalation,” Stéphane Séjourné, France’s foreign minister, wrote on X, formerly known as Twitter.

Ballistic missiles fired toward Israel, Iran’s state media says

Update 6:01 p.m. EDT April 13: IRNA, Iran’s state news agency, reported that ballistic missiles have been launched toward Israel, The Associated Press and CNN reported.

Meanwhile, The New York Times, citing the real-time aircraft flight tracking tool Flightradar24, said that the airspaces of Israel, Jordan, Lebanon and Iraq are all closed.

Drones, cruise missiles could target Golan Heights

Update 5:47 p.m. EDT April 13: Members of Israel’s intelligence said that the launch of drones and cruise missiles have been detected from Iran and Iraq, The New York Times reported.

The newspaper, quoting two Israeli officials who spoke on the condition of anonymity to discuss military intelligence, said the areas targeted are expected to be the Golan Heights and an Israeli air force base in the Negev Desert.

IDF: More than 100 unmanned drones launched

Update 5:43 p.m. EDT April 13: The Israel Defense Forces confirmed that more than 100 unmanned drones were launched toward Israel, The Washington Post reported.

Earlier, Iranian State Media reported that the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps launched “dozens of drones and missiles” toward the country, according to the newspaper.

Lebanon temporarily closes airspace

Update 5:36 p.m. EDT April 13: The Lebanese Ministry of Public Works and Transport announced that the country’s airspace will be temporarily closed to all incoming, departing and transiting aircraft after news of the launch of Iranian drones toward Israel, CNN reported.

The ministry said in a statement that the closure was a precautionary measure and was effective 1 a.m. local time until 7 a.m. Sunday.

Biden returns to White House

Update 5:32 p.m. EDT April 13: President Joe Biden arrived back at the White House at 5:02 p.m. EDT, and officials said he would be meeting with his National Security Council “soon,” The New York Times reported.

In Israel, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu of Israel was meeting with his war cabinet, according to a statement from his office.

Iraq closes airspace

Update 5:14 p.m. EDT April 13: The Iraqi Civil Aviation Authority announced that the nation’s airspace will be temporarily closed to all incoming, departing and transiting aircraft, beginning at 11:30 p.m. local time until 5:30 a.m. Sunday, CNN reported.

Officials said the closure was a precautionary measure.

Iran confirms launch of drones

Update 4:56 p.m. EDT April 13: Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps said in a statement broadcast on state television that it had launched missile and drone attacks on Israel from Iran, The New York Times reported.

“The aerospace unit of the Revolutionary Guards has attacked targets in Israel with dozens of drones and missiles in reaction to the Zionist regime’s crimes, including the attack on the consulate section of Iran’s embassy in Damascus and martyring our commanders and military advisers in Syria,” the statement said.

Israel plans to close airspace

Update 4:46 p.m. EST April 13: According to a statement from the Israel Airports Authority, Israel plans to close its airspace to international and domestic air traffic beginning at 12:30 a.m. local time on Sunday, The New York Times reported.

White House: US will support Israel

Update 4:41 p.m. EDT April 13: The White House said that the United States will support Israel.

“Iran has begun an airborne attack against Israel,” National Security Council spokesperson Adrienne Watson said in a statement. “President Biden is being regularly updated on the situation by his national security team and will meet with them this afternoon at the White House. His team is in constant communication with Israeli officials as well as other partners and allies. This attack is likely to unfold over a number of hours.

“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 defense against these threats from Iran.”

Original report: President Joe Biden cut short a beach weekend in Delaware on Saturday to return to the White House and meet with his staff, The Washington Post reported.

Earlier Saturday, Iranian forces seized a container ship with links to Israel in the Persian Gulf, It was believed to be a retaliation for Israel’s airstrike attack in the Syrian capital of Damascus on April 1 that killed several Iranian military officers, according to The New York Times.

Iran accused Israel of being behind the attack and vowed revenge, according to the AP. Israel has not commented about that attack.

Hagari told reporters in a televised briefing that Iran “fired drones from its territory towards the territory of the state of Israel,” the Times reported.

He added that Israeli forces were monitoring the threat.

The United States, Israel and Iran had all placed their militaries on high alert after the strike on April 1, according to the Times.

Defense Minister Yoav Gallant said on Saturday that Israel’s military had restricted large gatherings and educational activities, the Post reported.

“We are determined to defend our citizens against this terrorism, and we will know how to respond to it,” Gallant said in a statement.

Gallant said he spoke Saturday with Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin “to discuss urgent regional threats,” the newspaper reported, citing a Pentagon readout of the call.

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