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Israel launches missile strikes into Iran, U.S. military official says

Demonstrators wave a huge Iranian flag in their anti-Israeli gathering in front of an anti-Israeli banner on the wall of a building at the Felestin (Palestine) Sq. in Tehran, Iran, Monday, April 15, 2024.
Vahid Salemi
Demonstrators wave a huge Iranian flag in their anti-Israeli gathering in front of an anti-Israeli banner on the wall of a building at the Felestin (Palestine) Sq. in Tehran, Iran, Monday, April 15, 2024.

Updated April 19, 2024 at 4:58 AM ET

The Israeli military has conducted missile strikes against Iran, a senior U.S. military official told NPR on Thursday. There are also reports of explosions in Iraq and Syria.

The strikes appear to be the response Israel vowed to carry out after an Iranian attack on Sunday, when Tehran fired hundreds of drones and missiles at Israel. Most of Iran's volleys were intercepted or caused little damage. The U.S. military official spoke on condition of anonymity Thursday.

The extent of Israel's strikes and the weapons used weren't clear.

Iran state news agency IRNA reported a military official in the central Iranian city of Isfahan, Brigadier General Mihan Dost, as saying loud sounds heard east of the city were the sound of air defenses intercepting what he called a "suspicious target" and that no damage was reported in the area.

Other Iranian news agencies had not reported any such strike and have concluded the sounds reported near Isfahan were the interception of one or more drones.

Israel's military and prime minister's office have not yet responded to NPR's request for comment.

The International Atomic Energy Agency has confirmed on social media that there is no damage to Iran's nuclear sites.

Meanwhile, Israel's hardline National Security Minister, Itamar Ben-Gvir, wrote on social media platform X, formerly known as Twitter, that Israel's latest apparent strike against Iran was "weak" and too limited.

Commercial flights continue in and out of Israel, and the country's Home Front Command system, which is responsible for issuing threat alerts to civilians during tense military times, didn't change its threat level.

In Iran, flights were temporarily grounded in the morning, but resumed just a couple of hours later.

The U.S. and other western allies had been urging Israel to forego a military strike to avoid a regional conflict springing out of the Israel-Hamas war.

Those concerns rose when an air strike – which Iran blamed on Israel – killed two Iranian military commanders in the country's consulate in Damascus, Syria, on April 1.

Iran said Sunday's attack on Israel was in response to that.

The region has been on the edge of wider conflict since Hamas attacked Israel on Oct. 7, killing 1,200 people and taking more than 240 others hostage, according to Israel. Israel's military campaign in response in Gaza has killed more than 33,000 people, according to Gaza health officials.

Israel and Iran-backed Hezbollah have traded frequent fire over the northern Israel border. Houthi militants, also backed by Iran, have been going after international commercial vessels passing through the Red Sea in recent months. The group's leaders claim they're targeting ships with links to Israel in response to the country's ongoing invasion of Gaza.

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Tom Bowman is a NPR National Desk reporter covering the Pentagon.
Rob Schmitz is NPR's international correspondent based in Berlin, where he covers the human stories of a vast region reckoning with its past while it tries to guide the world toward a brighter future. From his base in the heart of Europe, Schmitz has covered Germany's levelheaded management of the COVID-19 pandemic, the rise of right-wing nationalist politics in Poland and creeping Chinese government influence inside the Czech Republic.
Peter Kenyon is NPR's international correspondent based in Istanbul, Turkey.