Dubai, United Arab Emirates (AFP) – Bomb-laden drones targeted an Iranian defense factory in the central city of Isfahan, causing some damage to the plant, authorities said early Sunday, amid escalating regional and international tensions gripping the Islamic Republic. .
Iran’s defense ministry gave no information on who was suspected of carrying out the attack, which came as a refinery fire broke out separately in the country’s northwest and a 5.9-magnitude earthquake struck nearby, killing two people.
However, Tehran has been targeted by suspected drone strikes amid a shadow war with its rival in the Middle East. With the collapse of its nuclear deal with world powers. Meanwhile, tensions remain high with neighboring Azerbaijan after a gunman attacked that country’s embassy in Tehran. Its security commander was killed and two others were wounded.
Details about the Isfahan attack, which took place around 11:30 p.m. on Saturday, have been scant. A statement from the Ministry of Defense described the launch of three drones at the facility, two of which were successfully shot down. The ministry said a third apparently succeeded in penetrating the building, causing “minor damage” to its roof and no one was hurt.
Press TV, the English-language arm of Iran’s state television, aired a video on a cellphone apparently showing the moment the drone hit the busy Imam Khomeini Highway that heads northwest of Isfahan, one of several ways for drivers to go to the city of Qom. Holy and Tehran, the capital of Iran. Drawn by anti-aircraft fire, a small, huddled crowd stood watching an explosion and sparks strike a darkened building.
“Oh my God! That was a drone, right?” exclaims the man filming. “Yes, it was a drone.”
These fled after the strike.
This footage of the strike, as well as footage of the aftermath analyzed by the Associated Press, correspond to a location on Mino Street in northwest Isfahan near a shopping center that includes carpets and an electronics store.
Iran’s defense and nuclear sites increasingly find themselves surrounded by commercial properties and residential neighborhoods as Iranian cities expand outward. Some sites also remain incredibly vague about what they produce, with only a banner bearing the logo of the Ministry of Defense or the paramilitary Revolutionary Guard.
The Ministry of Defense called the site only “Workshop”, without going into details of what it was made of. Isfahan, about 350 kilometers (215 miles) south of Tehran, is home to a large air base built for its fleet of US-made F-14 fighter jets and a nuclear fuel research and production center.
The attack comes after Iran’s Intelligence Ministry claimed in July that it had broken up a plot to target sensitive sites around Isfahan. A clip broadcast on Iranian state television in October included alleged confessions from alleged members of Komala, a Kurdish opposition party exiled from Iran and now living in Iraq, that they planned to target a military air facility in Isfahan after being trained by Israel’s Mossad. Smart service.
Activists say Iranian state television has aired hundreds of forced confessions over the past decade. Israeli officials declined to comment on the attack.
In a separate context, Iranian state television said that a fire broke out at an oil refinery in an industrial area near the northwestern city of Tabriz. She added that the cause was not yet known, as she showed footage of firefighters trying to put out the flames. Tabriz is located about 520 kilometers (325 miles) northwest of Tehran.
State TV also said that the 5.9-magnitude quake killed two people and injured about 664 others in rural areas of West Azerbaijan province, and damaged buildings in many villages.
Iran’s theocratic government faces challenges both at home and abroad as its nuclear program is enriching uranium faster than ever before to weapons levels. Since the collapse of its nuclear pact with world powers. Nationwide protests have rocked the country since the death of Mahsa Amini in September, an Iranian Kurdish woman arrested by the country’s morality police. Its currency, the riyal, fell to new lows against the US dollar.
Israel is suspected of launching a series of attacks on Iran, including the April 2021 attack on the underground Natanz nuclear facility that destroyed centrifuges.. In 2020, Iran blamed Israel for a complex attack that killed its top military nuclear scientist.
Israeli officials rarely acknowledge operations carried out by the country’s covert military units or its intelligence agency. However, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, who recently returned to the premiership, has long viewed Iran as the greatest threat facing his nation.
Meanwhile, tensions remain high between Azerbaijan and Iran as Azerbaijan and Armenia fight over the Nagorno-Karabakh region.. Iran also wants to maintain its 44-kilometre (27-mile) border with landlocked Armenia — something that could be threatened if Azerbaijan captures new territory through war.
In October, Iran launched military exercises near the border with Azerbaijan. Azerbaijan also maintains close relations with Israel, which has angered Iranian hardliners, and has bought Israeli-made drones for its military.
Associated Press writer Joseph Krause contributed to this report.