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Israel attacks Iran, reports say, as airlines change routes

Israel attacks Iran, reports say, as airlines change routes

Israel has launched an attack on Iran on Friday, according to sources.

This attack is the latest of the retaliatory exchange between the two countries.

Iranian media reported explosions, but an Iranian official claimed they were caused by air defense systems. State media said three drones over the central city of Isfahan had been shot down.

READ ALSO: Iran claims UN Council ‘hypocrites’ shielding Israel, as Guterres warns against conflict escalation

Israel’s leadership and the military were silent early on Friday.

The United States received notification before Israel’s attack, according to a Reuters report.

Washington and other global powers had tried to discourage Israel from responding to Iran’s last week attack to prevent a broader conflagration after the latest surge in violence was sparked by the air strike on the Iranian embassy compound in Damascus on April 1 that was blamed on Israel.

That strike came against the backdrop of Iran’s support for the Palestinian Hamas militant group, whose assault into Israel on Oct. 7 triggered Israel’s invasion of Gaza.

Iranian state TV said on Friday that shortly after midnight “three drones were observed in the sky over Isfahan. The air defense system became active and destroyed these drones in the sky.”

Senior army commander Siavosh Mihandoust was quoted by state TV as saying air defense systems had targeted a “suspicious object”.

READ ALSO: US national security adviser says more strikes on Iran-backed groups coming

Iranian President Ebrahim Raisi had warned Israel before Friday’s strike that Tehran would deliver a “severe response” to any attack on its territory.

Iran told the United Nations Security Council on Thursday that Israel “must be compelled to stop any further military adventurism against our interests” as the U.N. secretary-general warned that the Middle East was in a “moment of maximum peril.”

Nuclear facilities safe

Iran’s state television said nuclear facilities where Iran has been conducting work – which Tehran says is peaceful but which the West believes is aimed at building a weapon – were unharmed.

The Natanz nuclear site, the centerpiece of Iran’s uranium enrichment program, is in Isfahan province.

Iran closed its airports in Tehran, Shiraz and Isfahan after the attack and also cleared flights from the western portion of its airspace for a few hours after the attack, according to FlightRadar24. By 0445 GMT the airports and airspace had reopened.

READ ALSO: Israel kills US citizen, others in airstrike on aid workers in Gaza, Biden ‘outraged’ 

Israel’s assault on Gaza began after Palestinian Islamist group Hamas attacked Israel on Oct. 7, killing 1,200, according to Israeli tallies. Israel’s military offensive has killed over 33,000 Palestinians in Gaza, according to the local health ministry.

Iran-backed groups have declared support for Palestinians, launching attacks from Lebanon, Yemen and Iraq.

Airlines change routes

Airlines quickly changed flight paths over Iran, diverted to alternate airports or returned planes to their departure points on Friday in response to airspace and airport closures after an Israeli attack on Iran, flight tracking data showed.

Iran closed its airports in Tehran, Shiraz and Isfahan after the attack and cleared flights from the western portion of its airspace for a few hours after the attack, according to flight tracking website FlightRadar24.

By 0445 GMT the airports and airspace had reopened, and closure notices posted on a U.S. Federal Aviation Administration database had been removed.

Before the airports reopened, Flydubai said it had cancelled its Friday flights to Iran. One of its earlier flights turned back to Dubai, it said.

An Iran Air flight from Rome to Tehran was diverted to Ankara, Turkey, Flightradar 24 showed.

Emirates, Flydubai, Turkish Air, Wizz Air Abu Dhabi and Belavia were among the carriers continuing to fly over the part of Iran’s airspace that remained open in the initial hours after the attack early on Friday, the tracking website showed.

“We are monitoring the situation closely and will make changes to our flight paths in consultation with the relevant authorities,” Flydubai said in a statement.

The airspace and airport closures in Iran compounded a difficult week for Dubai-based carriers after record rainfall in the United Arab Emirates.

Since Tuesday, 1,478 flights have been cancelled to and from Dubai, approximately 30% of all flights, according to FlightRadar24.

Many Western and Asian airlines had already been steering clear of Iran and its airspace before the Israeli attack, which came days after Iran’s missile and drone attack on Israel.

Germany’s Lufthansa (LHAG.DE), opens new tab on Wednesday extended a suspension of flights to Tehran until the end of the month, citing ongoing security concerns in the region.

Australia’s Qantas Airways (QAN.AX), opens new tab said on Saturday it was rerouting flights between Perth and London on concerns about the Middle East, adding a fuel stop in Singapore as it avoided Iran’s airspace.

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Taiwan’s China Airlines (2610.TW), opens new tab said in a statement to it “continues to pay attention to the situation as it develops and plans the most appropriate routes in accordance with the recommendations of the U.S. Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) and the European Union Aviation Safety Agency”.

Etihad Airways, which does not fly to Iran, said it “continuously monitors security and airspace updates, safety is always our highest priority and we would never operate a flight unless it was safe to do so.”

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