On the morning of 19 April 2024, the Israel Defense Forces conducted a strike inside Iran. Iranian media reported that the air defenses destroyed at least three drones near the Shahid Salami airbase and Isfahan International Airport (OIFM/IFN) in the central city of Isfahan, located approximately 350 km (215 mi) south of the capital Tehran. In response to the event, Iranian authorities temporarily closed airports in Shiraz, Isfahan and the capital Tehran. Reports indicate that the airports reopened at approximately 1030 local time (0700 UTC). There have been no reports of damage or injuries as a result of the explosions. Officials with the International Atomic Energy Agency reported that none of Iran’s nuclear sites — one of which, Natanz, is located in Isfahan province — had been damaged. Isfahan also hosts a drone factory that may have been the target of the strike.

In a related event, the U.S. Embassy in Israel issued a Security Alert, which reads in part as follows: “Out of an abundance of caution following reports that Israel conducted a retaliatory strike inside Iran, U.S. government employees and their family members are restricted from personal travel outside the greater Tel Aviv (including Herzliya, Netanya, and Even Yehuda), Jerusalem, and Be’er Sheva areas until further notice. U.S. government personnel are authorized to transit between these three areas for personal travel.”

Analyst Comment: Following the strike — an Israeli response to Iran’s aerial assault on Israel over the weekend of 13-14 April — Iranian officials stated that the origin of the drones remains unconfirmed. Additionally, Iranian officials claim that no external missile or drone attack had occurred and suggested an unspecified infiltration. Ahead of the blasts in Isfahan, Iran’s foreign minister had stated that if Israel engaged in additional military actions against Iran, the response would be “immediate and at a maximum level,” Iran’s most recent claims, however, appear to indicate a desire to de-escalate and avoid a wider war. Nonetheless, the overall situation in the Middle East continues to be highly uncertain and the risk of a wider war between Israel and Iran remains elevated at this time.