American and British forces help Israel repel Iranian attack

Fighter jets and interceptors shoot down incoming drones and missiles over Jordan, Syria and Iraq

Namita Singh
Sunday 14 April 2024 11:55 BST
Adir fighter jets return to Israeli airbase after Iran missile attack

US and UK forces helped Israel intercept more than 99 percent of over 300 drones and missiles launched by Iran towards its territory Saturday night.

Royal Air Force jets were deployed in Iraq and Syria to intercept “any airborne attacks” within range while US forces, according to president Joe Biden, helped Israel down “nearly all” the incoming drones and missiles.

US and Israel had been bracing for an attack for days after Iran said it would retaliate for a suspected Israeli strike early this month on an Iranian consulate in Syria that killed 12 people, including two senior generals in the Revolutionary Guard’s elite Quds Force.

Israel said Iran launched 170 drones, 30 cruise missiles and more than 120 ballistic missiles, many of which were shot down by RAF and US warplanes over Iraq and Syria.

"At my direction, to support the defense of Israel, the US military moved aircraft and ballistic missile defense destroyers to the region over the course of the past week," US president Joe Biden said in a statement on Sunday. "Thanks to these deployments and the extraordinary skill of our servicemembers, we helped Israel take down nearly all of the incoming drones and missiles."

Speaking about the strategic aid provided to Israel, the UK’s Ministry of Defence said they moved “several additional Royal Air Force jets and air refuelling tankers to the region”.

“These will bolster Operation Shader, which is the UK’s existing counter-Daesh operation in Iraq and Syria. In addition, these UK jets will intercept any airborne attacks within range of our existing missions, as required.”

As tensions escalated in the wake of the attack and Israel’s war on Gaza, now in its seventh month, threatened to spill over into a wider regional conflict, Mr Biden pledged that American support for Israel was "ironclad”.

Jerusalem’s Old City is pictured at dawn on 14 April 2024 after Iran launched a drone and missile attack on Israel (AFP via Getty Images)

Iran and Israel have been engaged in a shadow war, marked by incidents such as the Damascus strike, for years. But Sunday’s assault, which set off air raid sirens across Israel, marked the first time Iran had launched a direct assault on Israel.

Israeli and US officials lauded the response to the attack.

"Iran launched more than 300 threats and 99 per cent were intercepted," said Rear Admiral Daniel Hagari, the Israeli military spokesperson. "That is a success."

He said none of the drones reached Israel, 25 cruise missiles were shot down by the Israeli Air Force and none entered Israel‘s airspace.

Most of the Iranian drones flying over Syria were downed by Israeli and US jets before reaching their targets in Israel, two Western intelligence sources said on Sunday.

They told Reuters the aerial interceptors shot down dozens of missiles and drones fired by Iran that flew above Deraa in southern Syria, the Syrian Golan Heights and several locations in eastern Syria near the Iraq border.

"We intercepted. We blocked. Together, we will win,” Israeli prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu posted on X.

His defence minister, Yoav Gallant, thanked America and other allies for their assistance, but warned that the incident was ongoing.

"This campaign is not over yet. We need to remain vigilant ... and to prepare for any scenario," he said in a video statement.

"At the same time, we blocked the first wave, and we did it with great success."

Additional reporting by agencies

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