Iran suffers drone strike days after US and Israel launched joint military drill in the region
Details on the Isfahan attack, which happened around 11:30 p.m. Saturday, remain scarce
An explosion at an Iranian military facility Saturday evening, which authorities said was the result of a drone strike, comes just days after the United States and Israel conducted joint military drills in the region.
Iran's authorities announced Saturday that bomb-carrying drones targeted a "workshop" that operates for the Iranian Ministry of Defense in the central city of Isfahan, causing some damage. The officials did not disclose what the factory produces and said the attack was "unsuccessful."
"One of (the drones) was hit by the ... air defense and the other two were caught in defense traps and blew up. Fortunately, this unsuccessful attack did not cause any loss of life and caused minor damage to the workshop's roof," Iranian defense officials said in a statement, according to state news agency IRNA.
Details on the Isfahan attack, which happened around 11:30 p.m. Saturday, remain scarce and the Iranian Defense Ministry did not reveal whom it suspected to have carried out the attack. It comes after U.S. Central Command (CENTCOM) and the Israeli Defense Forces (IDF) conducted a massive military drill in Israel earlier this week.
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A Defense Ministry statement said three drones were launched at the facility, two of them successfully shot down and a third striking the building, causing "minor damage" to its roof and wounding no one, the ministry said. Isfahan is located 215 miles south of Tehran.
There have been reports of additional drone strikes, including a comment from Iuliia Mendel, a former spokesperson for Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy.
Mehrdad Khalili, the director of IRNA in Lebanon, denied these reports.
"There is no truth to the occurrence of explosions in different areas in Iranian territory," he wrote in a translated tweet. "The only incident is the thwarting of an attack by drones on a factory for the Ministry of Defense."
No person, country, or entity has claimed responsibility for Saturday's attack.
Just days earlier, on Wednesday, officials announced joint exercises between the U.S. and Israel, which are said to be the most significant bilateral show of force between the two nations to date.
"Juniper Oak is a Combined Joint All-Domain exercise which improves our interoperability on land, in the air, at sea, in space, and in cyberspace with our partners, enhances our ability to respond to contingencies, and underscores our commitment to the Middle East." Gen. Michael "Erik" Kurilla, commander of CENTCOM said in a statement.
The statement added: "These kinds of exercises – which CENTCOM routinely conducts with our partners – develop interoperability between military forces, increase military capabilities, and are important to the security and stability of the region. The lessons learned during these exercises are exportable to our partners across the region."
Foundation for Defense of Democracies’ Center on Military and Political Power, a non-profit research institute, said the "scope, complexity, and size" is intended to send a message.
"The Biden administration wants Tehran to understand that the United States has both the military means and the political will to stand with Israel, secure American interests in the region, and conduct successful large-scale strikes if necessary," said Ryan Brobst, an FDD research analyst.
Brobst’s report added: "The scope, complexity, and size of this exercise should assure Israelis, Americans, and their regional partners, while making adversaries think twice before initiating aggression."
CENTCOM said the U.S. has contributed about 6,400 personnel, with approximately 450-500 American service members training at up to 10 bases in Israel. Most personnel, however, are operating at sea on six American ships, including the USS George H.W. Bush carrier strike group.
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The Israelis have deployed more than 1,000 soldiers and officers, six ships, and a significant number of aircraft, including F-35Is, F-16s, F-15s, G550 reconnaissance aircraft, B707 refueling aircraft, UAVs and helicopters.
Iran and arch-enemy Israel have maintained a shadow war after negotiations between the two countries, and the U.S. failed to achieve a deal over Iran’s nuclear weapon program.
Relations between Iran and Ukraine are also escalated as Iran is reportedly supplying Russia with drones to use in its invasion of Ukraine, Ukrainian officials alleged.
And tensions remain high with Iran’s northern neighboring country of Azerbaijan after a gunman attacked that country's embassy in Tehran, killing its security chief and wounding two others.
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Azerbaijan maintains close ties to Israel, further frustrating Iran.
Saturday evening, separately from the drone strike, an earthquake left three dead and 816 injured, the governor of West Azarbaijan announced.
Israel is suspected of launching attacks on Iran, including an April 2021 assault on its underground Natanz nuclear facility that damaged its centrifuges.
In 2020, Iran also blamed Israel for a sophisticated attack that killed its top military nuclear scientist. Israeli officials rarely acknowledge military operations and deny any official involvement.
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Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has long considered Iran to be the biggest threat his nation faces.
Fox News’ Andrew Mark Miller and Yonat Friling, and The Associated Press contributed to this report.