99% of missiles and drones fired by Iran shot down, Israel says

via X

Iran launched more than 300 drones and missiles at Israel overnight, 99 per cent of which were shot down, the Israeli military said on Sunday, adding that the armed forces remained fully functional and were discussing follow-up options.

Iran fired missiles and drones 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, as the US pledged "ironclad" backing for Israel.

Sirens wailed and Reuters journalists in Israel heard distant heavy thuds and bangs from what local media called aerial interceptions of explosive drones. Authorities said a 7-year-old girl was critically injured.

US President Joe Biden, who spoke by phone with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, said he would convene a meeting of leaders of the Group of Seven major economies on Sunday to coordinate a diplomatic response.

Six months into an Israeli-Hamas war in Gaza and amid growing risks of a greater regional war, Axios quoted a senior White House official as saying Biden also told Netanyahu the US would oppose any Israeli counter-attack against Iran.

The UN Security Council was set to meet at 4 pm ET (2000 GMT) on Sunday after Israel requested it condemn Iran's attack, according to a schedule released late on Saturday.

Israel's military spokesperson, Rear Admiral Daniel Hagari, said Iran launched dozens of ground-to-ground missiles at Israel, most of them intercepted outside Israeli borders. They included more than 10 cruise missiles, he said.

The Iranian salvo of more than 200 drones and missiles caused light damage to one Israeli military facility, Hagari said.

The Israeli military later said it was not advising any residents to prepare to take shelter. This revision of an earlier alert appeared to signal the end of the threat.

Israel's Channel 12 TV cited an unnamed Israeli official as saying there would be a "significant response" to the attack.

Iran had vowed retaliation for what it called an Israeli strike on its Damascus consulate on April 1 that killed seven officers of the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps, including two senior commanders. Tehran said its strike was punishment for "Israeli crimes". Israel has neither confirmed nor denied responsibility for the consulate attack.

"Should the Israeli regime make another mistake, Iran's response will be considerably more severe," the Iranian mission to the United Nations said, warning the US to "stay away". However, it also said Iran now "deemed the matter concluded".

US Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin said America did not seek conflict with Iran but would not hesitate to act to protect US forces and support the defence of Israel.

United Nations Secretary-General Antonio Guterres condemned Iran's attack, saying he was "deeply alarmed about the very real danger of a devastating region-wide escalation."

Russian Deputy UN Ambassador Dmitry Polyanskiy said on the Telegram social media app that in addition to a letter from Israel, the Security Council had received one from Iran asserting its attack was within the UN Charter framework governing the right to self-defence.

"The latter warns that if Israel responds, Iran will respond in a more powerful and decisive manner," Polyanskiy said.

Biden, who on Friday had warned Iran against an attack, cut short a weekend visit to his home state of Delaware and returned to Washington to meet with his national security advisers, including his secretaries of defence and state, in the White House Situation Room. He pledged to stand with Israel.

"Our commitment to Israel’s security against threats from Iran and its proxies is ironclad," Biden said on X after the meeting.

Drones were also reportedly launched against Israel by Yemen's Iran-aligned Houthi group, British maritime security company Ambrey said in a statement.

US and British warplanes were involved in shooting down some Israel-bound drones over the Iraq-Syria border area, Israel's Channel 12 reported. The US military knocked down dozens of drones and missiles bound for Israel, three US officials said.

Biden said he had directed the US military to move aircraft and ballistic missile defence destroyers to the region over the course of the past week.

Netanyahu convened Israel's war cabinet at a military headquarters in Tel Aviv, his office said.

Israel and Lebanon said they were closing their airspace on Saturday night although both reopened on Sunday morning.

Iran's main ally in the region, the Lebanese group Hezbollah that has been exchanging fire with Israel since the Gaza war began, said early on Sunday it had fired rockets at an Israeli base.

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