Khamenei tacitly acknowledges that Tehran suffered little in its attack on Israel

Khamenei, 85, made the comments at a meeting attended by the highest ranks of Iran’s regular army, police and paramilitary Revolutionary Guards, a powerful force within the Shiite theocracy | (Photo: PTI)

Iran’s Supreme Leader on Sunday rejected any discussion about whether Tehran’s unprecedented drone and missile attack on Israel would hit anything there, a tacit admission that despite launching a major attack, few projectiles actually reached their targets.

Ayatollah Ali Khamenei’s remarks to senior military leaders did not address Friday’s apparent Israeli retaliatory attack on the central city of Isfahan, even as its air defense systems opened fire and Iran grounded commercial flights in much of the country.

Analysts believe that both Iran and Israel, regional arch-rivals that have been locked in a shadow war for years, are trying to reduce tensions after a series of escalating attacks between them, as the war between Israel and Hamas continues in the Gaza Strip and the wider region sets on fire.

Khamenei, 85, made the comments at a meeting attended by the highest ranks of Iran’s regular army, police and paramilitary Revolutionary Guards, a powerful force within the Shiite theocracy.

Debates by the other side about how many missiles were fired, how many of them hit the target and how many did not, are of secondary importance,” Khamenei said in remarks broadcast by state television.

The main issue is the rise of the Iranian nation and the will of the Iranian military in an important international arena. This is what matters.

Iran launched hundreds of drones, ballistic missiles and cruise missiles that attempted to overwhelm Israeli air defenses in the April 13 attack, the first attack on Israel by a foreign power since Iraqi dictator Saddam Hussein launched Scud missiles at Israel in the 1991 Gulf War.

However, Israeli air defenses and fighter jets, backed by the US, UK and neighboring Jordan, shot down the vast majority of the incoming fire.

Satellite images analyzed by The Associated Press on Saturday showed the Iranian attack caused only minor damage at the Nevatim air base in southern Israel, including taking out a section of a taxiway that Israel quickly repaired.

Iran’s attack came in response to a suspected Israeli attack on April 1 targeting a consular building next to the Iranian embassy in Damascus, Syria, that killed two Guard generals, among others.

Thanks to the work done by our armed forces, the Revolutionary Guards, the army and the police, each in his own way, all praise be to Allah, the country’s image has become praiseworthy around the world,” Khamenei said, despite Iran . facing public anger over the economy and a crackdown on dissent.

In other developments, Iraqi security forces in the western province of Nineveh were searching for outlaw elements who fired rockets across the border into Syria late Sunday, targeting a base for US-led coalition forces, the Iraqi Security Media Cell said.

Searchers found and destroyed a rocket launcher, the statement said.

No group immediately claimed responsibility for the reported attack.

Major General Tahseen al-Khafaji, head of the Security Media Cell, said around five missiles were launched across the border, but it was unclear whether they hit the targeted base or caused damage.

There was no immediate comment from US authorities.

Two nights earlier, an explosion struck a base in Iraq belonging to the Popular Mobilization Forces, a coalition of Iran-affiliated militias, killing one person and wounding eight.

Militia officials initially described the explosion at the Kalsu military base north of Babylon as an airstrike that they blamed on U.S. forces. The US Central Command denied it had carried out airstrikes in Iraq, and the Iraqi Security Media Cell said the country’s air defense command had not detected any drones or warplanes near Babylon before or during the explosion.

The PMF is classified as an independent military formation within the Iraqi armed forces.

In recent months, some of the coalition’s members have carried out attacks on US forces stationed in the region, in what they say was retaliation for Washington’s support for Israel in its war with Hamas in Gaza. Those attacks stopped after three U.S. soldiers were killed in an attack on a base in Jordan near the Syrian border in late January, prompting U.S. retaliatory strikes in Iraq.

(Only the headline and image of this report may have been reworked by Business Standard staff; the rest of the content is automatically generated from a syndicated feed.)

First print: April 22, 2024 | 7:49 am IST