The Latest | Iran fires air defence batteries and diverts flights after explosions

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The Latest | Iran fires air defence batteries and diverts flights after explosions

Friday, 19 April 2024 | AP | Jerusalem

The Latest | Iran fires air defence batteries and diverts flights after explosions

Iran fired air defence batteries Friday and some flights were diverted or grounded after reports of explosions near a major airbase and nuclear site where drones were spotted. It was unclear if the country was under attack, but tensions are high after Iran's unprecedented missile-and-drone attack on Israel. The Israeli military did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

Israel has vowed to respond to Iran's unprecedented weekend attack, leaving the region bracing for further escalation after months of fighting in Gaza. Allies have urged Israel to hold back on any response to the attack that could spiral.

On Thursday, the United States vetoed a widely backed UN resolution that would have paved the way for full United Nations membership for a state of Palestine. The vote in the 15-member Security Council was 12 in favour, the US opposed, and two abstentions.

Separately, the US and Britain announced that they were imposing a new round of sanctions on Iran. The moves came as European Union leaders meeting in Brussels vowed to ramp up sanctions on Iran to target its drone and missile deliveries to proxies in Gaza, Yemen and Lebanon.

Regional tensions have increased since the start of the latest Israel-Hamas war on October 7, when Hamas and Islamic Jihad — two militant groups backed by Iran — carried out a cross-border attack that killed 1,200 people in Israel and kidnapped 250 others. Israel responded with an offensive in Gaza that has caused widespread devastation and killed more than 33,900 people, according to local health officials.

Currently:

— Iran fires air defence batteries in provinces as explosions heard near Isfahan.

— The US and Britain issue new sanctions on Iran in response to Tehran's weekend attack on Israel.

— NATO and the EU urge G7 nations to step up air defence for Ukraine and expand Iran sanctions.

— The US vetoes a widely supported resolution backing full UN membership for Palestine.

— Palestinian soccer renews call for sanctions against Israel at FIFA congress amid Hamas conflict.

Here is the latest:

IRAN FIRES AIR DEFENCE BATTERIES AFTER APPARENT EXPLOSIONS ARE HEARD NEAR MAJOR AIR BASE

DUBAI, United Arab Emirates — Iran fired air defence batteries early Friday morning at a major air base and a nuclear site near its central city of Isfahan over drones being spotted, raising fears of a possible Israeli retaliatory strike following Tehran's unprecedented drone-and-missile assault on the country.

It was unclear if the country was under attack, as no Iranian official directly acknowledged the possibility and Israel's military did not respond to a request for comment. However, tensions have remained high in the days since the Saturday assault on Israel amid its war on Hamas in the Gaza Strip and its own strikes targeting Iran in Syria.

Air defences fired in several provinces over reports of drones being in the air, state television reported.

The facility at Isfahan operates three small Chinese-supplied research reactors, as well as handles fuel production and other activities for Iran's civilian nuclear program.

 

SOME FLIGHTS ARE DIVERTED OR GROUNDED AROUND IRAN AFTER LOUD NOISE' NEAR ISFAHAN

DUBAI, United Arab Emirates — Dubai-based carriers Emirates and FlyDubai began diverting around western Iran about 4:30 am local time. They offered no explanation, though local warnings to aviators suggested the airspace may have been closed.

Iran later announced it grounded commercial flights in Tehran and across areas of its western and central regions. Loudspeakers informed customers of the incident at Imam Khomeini International Airport in Tehran, online videos purported to show.

Iranian state television began a scrolling, on-screen alert acknowledging a “loud noise” near Isfahan, without immediately elaborating.

Hossein Dalirian, a spokesperson for Iran's civilian space program, said on the X social media platform that several small “quadcopter” drones had been shot down. A state television reporter in Isfahan said the same in a live report, saying “several small drones were flying in the sky over Isfahan, which were fired at.”

Meanwhile in Iraq, where a number of Iranian-backed militias are based, residents of Baghdad reported hearing sounds of explosions, but the source of the noise was not immediately clear.

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