RAF shot down ‘a number of drones’ in Iran’s attack on Israel

Politics

UK jets shot down “a number of drones” launched by Iran in its unprecedented attack on Israel last night, Rishi Sunak has said.

The prime minister called the assault by Tehran a “dangerous and unnecessary escalation” of conflict in the Middle East, warning the “the fallout for regional stability would be hard to overstate” had it been successful.

Israel said Iran launched 170 drones, more than 30 cruise missiles and at least 120 ballistic missiles early on Sunday in an attack that set off air raid sirens across the country.

Follow live updates of Iran’s attack on Israel

Mr Sunak said: “Thanks to an international co-ordinated effort, which the UK participated in, almost all of these missiles were intercepted, saving lives not just in Israel but in neighbouring countries like Jordan as well.”

He added that the UK sent “additional planes” to the region as part of operations already under way in Iraq and Syria.

Pic: AP
Israeli Iron Dome air defense system launches to intercept missiles fired from Iran, in central Israel, Sunday, April 14, 2024. Iran launched its first direct military attack against Israel on Saturday. The Israeli military says Iran fired more than 100 bomb-carrying drones toward Israel. Hours later, Iran announced it had also launched much more destructive ballistic missiles. (AP Photo/Tomer Neuberg)
Image:
Israeli Iron Dome air defense system launches to intercept missiles fired from Iran. Pic: AP

“I can confirm that our planes did shoot down a number of Iranian attack drones,” he said.

More on Israel-hamas War

The Ministry of Defence (MoD) had earlier confirmed that several RAF jets and air refuelling tankers had been sent to the region to “bolster Operation Shader” – the UK’s existing counter-Islamic State operation in Iraq and Syria.

However, it was not clear if any drones were shot down, with government minister Victoria Atkins saying on this morning’s media rounds that she is “not in a position to confirm or deny” it.

Mr Sunak is expected to join US President Joe Biden on a call with G7 leaders on Sunday amid fears of further escalation in the event of a possible Israeli counter-strike.

Pic: Reuters
The remains of a rocket booster that, according to Israeli authorities critically injured a 7-year-old girl, after Iran launched drones and missiles towards Israel, near Arad, Israel, April 14, 2024. REUTERS/Christophe van der Perre
Image:
The remains of a rocket booster that, according to Israeli authorities critically injured a 7-year-old girl. Pic: Reuters

The assault was launched in response to a strike widely blamed on Israel on an Iranian consular building in Syria earlier this month which killed two Iranian generals.

It marks the first time a direct military assault has been launched by Tehran on Israel despite decades of enmity dating back to the country’s 1979 Islamic Revolution.

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‘This is a serious act against Israel’

The development threatens to become a major regional escalation after years of shadow wars fought between the two foes as the conflict in Gaza inflames decades-old tensions in the Middle East.

Britain and the US have offered staunch support for Israel, although Tehran has threatened a “heavier” response if Washington cooperates in any further military action.

Israeli military spokesman rear admiral Daniel Hagari said 99% of more than 300 drones, cruise missiles and ballistic missiles had been shot down outside the country’s borders, with aircraft intercepting more than 10 cruise missiles.

Analysis:
Will Israel let an attack by Iran go unpunished? Probably not
All-out war, or not, in the Middle East?

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