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US, partners shoot down drones launched by Iran toward Israel

Israel and U.S. partners are scrambling to intercept.
Nicholas Slayton Avatar
Iranian Foreign Minister Hossein Amir-Abdollahian, Syrian Foreign Minister Faisal Mekdad and other officials check the site of Israeli attack on Iran consulate in Damascus, Syria, on April 8, 2024. Iranian Foreign Minister Hossein Amir-Abdollahian opened a new consulate building in the Syrian capital of Damascus on Monday, following the destruction of the previous consulate by an Israeli strike last week. (Photo by Ammar Safarjalani/Xinhua via Getty Images)

U.S. and allied forces are shooting down drones over Iraq and Syria after Iran launched hundreds of uncrewed aerial vehicles toward Israel. The intercepts after Iran began the attack in retaliation for the airstrike against its embassy in Damascus earlier this month, an action it blames on Israel.

The attack started Saturday evening local time, with Iran launching hundreds of drones. Iran’s partners in Iraq and Yemen also began sending attack UAVs toward Israel, per reports.

“U.S. forces in the region continue to shoot down Iranian-launched drones targeting Israel,” a defense official said in a statement. “Our forces remain postured to provide additional defensive support and to protect U.S. forces operating in the region.” 

In a statement posted to X, President Joe Biden said that he had met with his national security team for briefings on the attack. “Our commitment to Israel’s security against threats from Iran and its proxies is ironclad,” the statement continued.

Along with American forces, Jordan and the United Kingdom’s respective air forces have been in the skies, with Jordan shooting down dozens of drones over its airspace, according to Retuers. Jordan, a major U.S. partner in the region, declared a state emergency and closed its airspace. Egypt, Iraq and Lebanon have also closed their airspace following news of Iran’s attack.

Shortly after initial reports, Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps confirmed the operation and added it had also fired missiles.

“We launched an operation using drones and missiles in response to the Zionist entity’s crime of targeting the Iranian consulate in Syria,” the IRGC said in a statement. “The operation was carried out with dozens of missiles and drones to strike specific targets in the occupied territories.”

Separately, Iran’s United Nations mission issued a statement saying that the attack, done in response to the April 1 Damascus attack, had “concluded.”

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Israel and Iran have long been enemies and carried out low-grade attacks against each other, but the current crisis was exacerbated by a strike on the Iranian consulate in Syria on April 1.  Brigadier General Mohammad Reza Zahedi, a commander with the IRGC’s’ Quds Force, was killed in the attack, along with six others. Israel denied responsibility for the strike but Iran accuses it of the strike. 

Since the Israeli-Gaza war started in October 2023, Iranian-aligned groups in Iraq and Yemen have been targeting American military installations and ships. In Iraq, Iranian-backed militias (including those that are part of the legitimized Popular Mobilization Forces) have fired on U.S. In Yemen, the Houthi movement which controls large parts of the country including the capital of Sana’a has vowed to block transit in the Red Sea for ships from Israel or aligned with Israel. It has fired on American military ships as well.

The conflict in Israel and the Occupied Territories has killed more than 34,000 people since Oct. 7.

Task & Purpose has not seen any credible reports of attacks on U.S. troops or installations.

Update: 4/13/2024: This story has been updated with confirmation of U.S. interception of some of the drones, as well as new statements from officials.

This is a developing story. 

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