Middle East latest LIVE: Israel 'strikes Iran' as blasts reported near central city of Isfahan

Middle East latest LIVE: Israel 'strikes Iran' as blasts reported near central city of Isfahan

Israel was reported to have attacked Iran on Friday following apparent explosions in the Middle Eastern country.

American broadcast networks quoting unnamed US officials said Israel carried out an attack.Iranian state media said Tehran had fired air defence batteries early on Friday morning after following reports of explosions near the city of Isfahan.

Cabinet minister Mel Stride on Friday said the UK recognises Israel's right to defend itself, while pressing its ally to "work hard towards de-escalation".

Tensions have risen in the region after Iran's unprecedented missile and drone attack on Israel on Saturday night.

Follow latest updates below...

Iran strike is escalation of regional conflict, says Hamas official

13:00 , Josh Salisbury

Israel’s attack on Iran is an escalation of the conflict in the region, a spokesperson for Hamas said.

Terror group official Sami Abu Zuhri called Israel’s strike “aggression” and said Hamas called for “expanding the scale of the engagement against the (Israeli) occupation”.

Hamas leaders have frequently praised Iran for its financial and military support to the group, including during the current war with Israel which began on October 7 after Hamas carried out its terror attack.

Israel gave 'last minute' notification before strike, says US

12:34 , Josh Salisbury

The US told the G7 meeting of foreign ministers that it received "last minute" information from Israel about a drone action in Iran, Italy's foreign minister said.

Italian Foreign Minister Antonio Tajani, who chaired the meeting, said the United States provided the information at a Friday morning session that was changed at the last minute to address the suspected attack.

Mr Tajani said the US informed the G7 ministers that it had been "informed at the last minute" by Israel about the drones.

"But there was no sharing of the attack by the U.S. It was a mere information,” he said.

UK and G7 allies urge Israel and Iran 'to work to prevent further escalation'

11:52 , Lydia Chantler-Hicks

The UK and its G7 allies have urged restraint in the Middle East.

A communique from G7 foreign ministers, including British Foreign Secretary Lord Cameron, condemned Iran for its attack last week, adding: "This was a dangerous escalation, as Iran fired hundreds of ballistic missiles, cruise missiles and drones."

They added: "Israel and its people have our full solidarity and support and we reaffirm our commitment towards Israel's security.

“Iran's actions mark an unacceptable step towards the destabilisation of the region and a further escalation, which must be avoided.

"In light of reports of strikes on April 19, we urge all parties to work to prevent further escalation. The G7 will continue to work to this end."

Russia urges Israel and Iran to show restraint, as it studies situation

11:06 , Lydia Chantler-Hicks

The Kremlin says it is studying information on Israel's reported strike on Iran, as it urged both sides to show restraint.

Sunak calls for 'calm heads' as he says UK 'working to confirm details' of Iran 'attack'

10:13 , Lydia Chantler-Hicks

Rishi Sunak said he would not speculate on reports Israel had carried out an attack on Iranian soil.

"It's a developing situation, it wouldn't be right for me to speculate until the facts become clearer and we're working to confirm the details together with allies," Mr Sunak said this morning.

Rishi Sunak, speaking in central London on Friday (Yui Mok/PA Wire)
Rishi Sunak, speaking in central London on Friday (Yui Mok/PA Wire)

He made the comments following a speech in central London on welfare reform.

"Significant escalation is not in anyone's interest. What we want to see is calm heads prevail across the region," he added.

Alleged strike comes days after Iranian strike on Israel

09:36 , Lydia Chantler-Hicks

Last night’s alleged strike on Iran comes six days after Iranian launched an unprecedented strike on Israel, which raised fears of further escalation in the Middle East.

On Saturday (April 13), Iran launched a massive aerial attack on Israel in retaliation for a suspected air strike on its Damascus consulate.

IDF spokesperson Avichay Adraee said Iran launched more than 300 “threats of various types” toward Israel, including ballistic missiles, drones and cruise missiles.

The direct attack, ordered by Iranian Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, was unprecedented and heightened fears Jerusalem could strike back, dragging Iran into conflict with Israel six months after the war against Tehran’s proxy Hamas erupted.

Iran previously warned Israel of a larger attack on its territory should it retaliate.

It also warned Washington that any backing of Israeli retaliation would result in US bases being targeted.

The UK and US have imposed a raft of new sanctions on leading Iranian military figures and entities, which Rishi Sunak said demonstrated London and Washington’s unequivocal condemnation of the assault on Israel.

Israeli's hard right security minister appears to brand alleged attack 'feeble'

09:15 , Lydia Chantler-Hicks

Hard right Israeli security minister Itamar Ben-Gvir has appeared to express dismay at the scale of the alleged strike by Israel.

He said in a one-word post on X: “Feeble!”

Middle East mediator Oman condemns alleged attack by Israel

08:55 , Lydia Chantler-Hicks

Oman, which has acted as a mediator in the Middle East, has condemned the alleged Israeli attack on Iranian soil, as well as "the repeated Israeli military attacks in the region", said a foreign ministry statement.

China opposes any action that escalates tensions in Middle East, says foreign ministry

08:54 , Lydia Chantler-Hicks

China opposes any action escalating tensions in the Middle East after the Israeli attack on Iran, a spokeperson for the Chinese foreign ministry has sadi.

Several countries had already warned that a retaliatory attack by Israel against recent Iranian strikes could risk dragging the entire region into a wider regional war.

Iran 'has no plan for immediate retaliation', as source of drones remains unclear

08:08 , Lydia Chantler-Hicks

Iran has no plan for immediate retaliation against Israel, a senior Iranian official told new agency Reuters this morning.

"The foreign source of the incident has not been confirmed. We have not received any external attack, and the discussion leans more towards infiltration than attack," the Iranian official said on condition of anonymity.

Earlier, an Iranian analyst told state TV the drones shot down by air defences in Isfahan were flown by "infiltrators from inside Iran".

The source of the drones has not been confirmed.

Cabinet minister declines to say if UK would support Israel's reported action

07:51 , Lydia Chantler-Hicks

Work and Pensions Secretary Mel Stride has declined to say whether the UK would support Israel’s reported action in Iran if confirmed.

He told Sky News: “I don’t want to get into hypotheticals, because of course, the question you’ve asked begs many other questions as to what form exactly that retaliation may or indeed may not have taken.”

The senior Tory also refused to say whether Israel would have UK backing for any further action.

“The overarching message on the military front is that de-escalation now is really important,” he said. “We are very firmly engaged in counselling de-escalation and moderation at this particular moment.”

Cabinet minister stresses Israel's 'right to defend itself', but says de-escalation is now key

07:34 , Lydia Chantler-Hicks

Work and Pensions Secretary Mel Stride has told Times Radio: "I think what we should say first and foremost, of course, is this is an evolving situation. These are unconfirmed reports as at the moment.

"But where we are as a Government is recognising very clearly that Israel has a right to defend itself. Indeed we joined in with others in doing exactly that when Iran made that a very significant attack on Israel at the weekend.

"At the same time though, we are pressing our Israeli allies and others in the region to really work hard towards de-escalation. So that is the important message that we have at the moment, but obviously, we need to wait to see how events unfold and exactly what has happened.

"I know the Foreign Secretary is speaking with his G7 counterparts in Italy as we speak, and of course, they will be focused on exactly that, and the importance of de-escalating tensions in the region."

Israel has right to self-defence, says Downing Street

07:25 , Lydia Chantler-Hicks

The Prime Minister’s office has told the BBC that while it understands the source of last night’s strike has not been confirmed, Israel has the right to self-defence.

A spokesperson told the news outlet: “We have been stressing to Israelis that what matters now is de-escalation".

Apparent attack comes on birthday of Iran's supreme leader

07:22 , Lydia Chantler-Hicks

The apparent attack - said to have taken place around 12.30am on Friday - occurred on the 85th birthday of Iran’s supreme leader, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei.

07:07 , Lydia Chantler-Hicks

No damage was caused in the overnight attack, a senior commander of Iran's Army Siavosh Mihandoust said on Friday according to state TV, adding that the noise heard overnight in Isfahan was due to air defence systems targeting a "suspicious object".

Iranian state media says three drones shot down over Isfahan

07:06 , Lydia Chantler-Hicks

Iranian state media said three drones over the central city of Isfahan were shot down.

Meanwhile, an Iranian official told news agency Reuters explosions reported by Iranian media were caused by air defense systems.

Video captured by residents in Isfahan appears to show air defences intercepting the drones.

No damage was caused in the overnight attack, a senior commander of Iran's Army Siavosh Mihandoust said, according to state TV.

IAEA confirms no damage to Iran's nuclear sites

07:02 , Lydia Chantler-Hicks

The province of Isfahan is home to the Natanz nuclear site, the centerpiece of Iran’s uranium enrichment program.

The International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) confirmed this morning there was no damage to Iran's nuclear sites in last night’s alleged attack by Israel on Iran.

The agency called for extreme restraint from all sides, stressing that nuclear facilities should never be a target in military conflicts, it said in an X post.

Reports of Israeli strike on Iran

06:51 , Lydia Chantler-Hicks

Good morning, and welcome to the Standard’s live blog.

We’ll be bringing you everything you need to know this morning following reports of an Israeli strike on Iran.

Iran fired air defence batteries early on Friday morning after reports of explosions near the city of Isfahan, the state-run IRNA news agency reported.

Two US officials told CBS News that an Israeli missile has struck Iran, CBS’ partner the BBC reports.

One government official suggested sites may have been targeted by drones.

The Israeli military did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

Iran’s IRNA news agency said the defences fired across several provinces. It did not elaborate on what caused the batteries to fire, though people across the area reported hearing the sounds.