DUBAI, United Arab Emirates (AP) — Bomb-carrying drones struck an Iranian defense factory in central Isfahan overnight, authorities said early Sunday, amid regional and international tensions engulfing the Islamic Republic. The plant caused some damage amid the heightened situation.
Iran’s Defense Ministry did not provide any information on who it suspected of carrying out the attack, which came as a fire broke out at an oil refinery in the country’s northwest and a 5.9-magnitude earthquake struck nearby, killing two people.
Yet Tehran is the target of a suspected Israeli drone strike in a shadowy war with Middle Eastern rivals With the collapse of its nuclear deal with world powers. Meanwhile, tensions with neighboring Azerbaijan remained high after a gunman attacked the country’s embassy in Tehran, Killed its security chief and wounded two others.
Details remain scant about the Isfahan attack that took place around 11.30pm on Saturday. A Defense Ministry statement described three drones being launched at the facility, two of which were successfully shot down. A third apparently managed to hit the building, causing “minor damage” to its roof and no one was injured, the ministry said.
Cellphone video aired by Press TV, the English-language channel of Iranian state television, apparently showed the moment the drone hit the busy Imam Khomeini highway, heading northwest from Isfahan, where drivers headed to One of several ways to the holy city of Qom and the holy city of Tehran, the capital of Iran. A small group gathered, drawn in by the anti-aircraft fire, watched as the explosion and sparks hit a darkened building.
“My God! That’s a drone, isn’t it?” shouted the person filming it. “Yes, that’s a drone.”
People there fled after the strike.
Footage of the strike, and footage of the aftermath analyzed by The Associated Press, corresponded to a site on Minoo Street in northwest Isfahan near a shopping mall with carpet and electronics stores.
Iran’s defense and nuclear facilities are increasingly surrounded by commercial real estate and residential complexes as the country’s cities expand outward. Some places are still very opaque about what they make, save for a logo bearing the emblem of the Ministry of Defense or the paramilitary Revolutionary Guard Corps.
The Department of Defense referred to the site only as a “workshop,” without elaborating on what it did. Isfahan, about 350 kilometers (215 miles) south of Tehran, is home to a large air base for the US-made F-14 fighter fleet and a nuclear fuel research and production center.
The attack came after Iran’s intelligence ministry claimed in July that it had foiled a plot targeting sensitive sites around Isfahan. A clip aired on Iranian state television in October included alleged confessions by members of Komala, a Kurdish opposition exiled from Iran now living in Iraq, who planned to target Isfahan after receiving training from Israel’s Mossad A military aerospace facility intelligence service.
Activists say Iranian state TV aired hundreds of forced confessions in past decade. Israeli officials declined to comment on the attack.
Separately, Iranian state television said a fire broke out at an oil refinery in an industrial area near the northwestern city of Tabriz. It said the cause was unclear as it showed footage of firefighters trying to extinguish the blaze. Tabriz is located approximately 520 kilometers (325 miles) northwest of Tehran.
State television also said a 5.9-magnitude earthquake in rural areas of West Azerbaijan province killed two people, injured some 664 and damaged buildings in many villages.
Iran’s theocratic government faces challenges at home and abroad as its nuclear program enriches uranium closer than ever to weapons-grade levels Since the collapse of its atomic agreements with world powers.Nationwide protests have rocked the country since Mahsa Amini’s death in September, a Kurdish-Iranian woman detained by the country’s morality police.Its riyal currency falls to new low against dollar.
Israel is suspected of a series of attacks on Iran, including an attack on its underground Natanz nuclear facility in April 2021 that damaged centrifuges. In 2020, Iran accused Israel of a complex attack that killed its top military nuclear scientist.
Israeli officials rarely acknowledge operations by the country’s secretive military unit or its Mossad intelligence agency. However, recently re-elected Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has long considered Iran the greatest threat facing Israel.
Meanwhile, tensions between Azerbaijan and Iran remain high amid a dispute between Azerbaijan and Armenia over the Nagorno-Karabakh regionIran also wants to maintain its 44-kilometer (27-mile) border with landlocked Armenia – which could be threatened if Azerbaijan goes to war for new territory.
Iran launches military drills near Azerbaijan border in OctoberAzerbaijan also maintains close ties with Israel, which has angered Iranian hardliners and bought Israeli-made drones for its army.
Associated Press writer Joseph Krause contributed to this report.