Iran scrambles air defences and shoots at incoming targets

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Iran activated air defence systems and shot at several unidentified small airborne vehicles in the early hours of Friday, state television said, amid fears that Israel was taking retaliatory action for last week’s drone strike by Tehran.

Earlier reports in Iran said that explosions were heard near the cities of Isfahan, in central Iran, and Tabriz in the north west, according to the Tasnim news agency, which is close to Iran’s elite Revolutionary Guards. Isfahan is home to a major base for the Iranian military.

Tasnim reported that the military air base and the nuclear installations in Isfahan were safe and rejected reports of any attack from outside the country. A senior military official in Isfahan said air defences had fired at unidentified objects and there was no damage, according to Tasnim.

Oil futures jumped following the reports. Futures for Brent crude, the international oil benchmark, rose as much as 4.2 per cent to $90.75 per barrel while West Texas Intermediate, the US marker, gained as much as 4.3 per cent to $86.28 per barrel.

Gold, a haven during times of geopolitical uncertainty, rose as much as 1.6 per cent to $2417.89 per troy ounce.

An Israeli official declined to comment. The White House and Pentagon declined to comment.

Some flights in Iran were suspended for safety reasons but had been restored, Iranian state television reported.

Tension is high in the Middle East over possible Israeli retaliation after Iran fired more than 300 armed drones and missiles at the Jewish state last weekend, the first time Tehran has targeted the country directly from its own soil.

Iran said the strike was a response to an attack on its embassy in Damascus that killed senior military commanders, which Tehran blamed on Israel.

Israeli officials have indicated they would respond, despite western pleas for restraint and fears of the impact it could have on the conflict in Gaza, and the risk that any retaliation could push the Middle East to all-out war.

The Pentagon earlier said that defence secretary Lloyd Austin spoke to his Israeli counterpart Yoav Gallant on Thursday to discuss “regional threats and Iran’s destabilising actions in the Middle East”.

This is a developing story

Via

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