Leader Dodges on Whether Iran's Strike Did Any Damage

Most drones and missiles fired at Israel were intercepted
By Newser Editors and Wire Services
Posted Apr 21, 2024 10:40 AM CDT
Iran's Leader Sidesteps Whether Its Strike Landed
A missile is on display with a sign on it reading in Farsi: "Death to Israel" in front of a mosque in the shape of Dome of the Rock of Jerusalem at an entrance of the Quds town west of the capital Tehran, Iran, on Sunday.   (AP Photo/Vahid Salemi)

Iran's supreme leader on Sunday dismissed any discussion of whether Tehran's unprecedented drone-and-missile attack on Israel hit anything there, a tacit acknowledgment that despite the launch of a massive assault, few projectiles actually made through to their targets. Ayatollah Ali Khamenei's comments before senior military leaders didn't touch on the apparent Israeli retaliatory strike Friday on the central city of Isfahan, though air defenses opened fire and Iran grounded commercial flights across much of the country. Khamenei made the comments in a meeting attended by the top ranks of Iran's regular military, police and paramilitary Revolutionary Guard, the AP reports.

"Debates by the other party about how many missiles were fired, how many of them hit the target and how many didn't, these are of secondary importance," Khamenei, 85, said in remarks aired by state television. "The main issue is the emergence of the Iranian nation and Iranian military's will in an important international arena. This is what matters." Iran launched hundreds of drones, ballistic missiles, and cruise missiles that sought to overwhelm Israel's air defenses in the April 13 attack—the first 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, the UK, and Jordan, shot down the vast majority of incoming fire. Satellite images analyzed Saturday by the AP showed the Iranian attack caused only minor damage at the Nevatim air base in southern Israel, including taking a chunk out of a taxiway that Israel quickly repaired. Iran's attack came in response to a suspected Israeli strike on April 1 targeting a consular building next to the Iranian Embassy in Damascus, Syria, which killed two Guard generals and others. Analysts say Iran and Israel are trying to dial back tensions following a series of escalatory attacks between them as the Israel-Hamas war inflames the region.

(More Iran stories.)

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