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Israel strikes back at Iran: explosions rock airbase in city linked to Tehran's nuclear program, US denies nuclear facilities targeted.

In a retaliatory move against Tehran's recent drone-and-missile assault, Israel conducted strikes in Iran, despite warnings from US President Joe Biden regarding the potential escalation of conflict in the Middle East.

Explosions reverberated through the central Iranian city of Isfahan at around 5 am local time, with reports indicating that Israeli projectiles targeted an Air Force base near Isfahan. This base has long been associated with Iran's fleet of American-made F-14 Tomcats, acquired prior to the 1979 Islamic Revolution. While one of Iran's nuclear facilities is situated near the city, US military sources suggested that the strike did not target nuclear infrastructure.

Iran moved swiftly to downplay the extent of damage to its military installations and adamantly denied any destruction of nuclear plants, asserting that there were no reports of significant strikes or explosions attributable to aerial threats. Iranian state TV even released footage of an undisturbed Isfahan cityscape to counter reports of the city being hit.

The Israeli strikes followed Iran's barrage of hundreds of drones and rockets aimed at Israel over the weekend, a majority of which were intercepted by Israel and its allies. Isfahan was among the launch sites utilized in the assault.

Despite Biden's caution against retaliatory actions, Israel's response seemed measured. However, hard-right elements within Israeli leadership expressed dissatisfaction, with Israeli National Security Minister Itamar Ben-Gvir labeling the response as "Feeble!".

Contrary to earlier statements by Iranian officials hinting at immediate retaliation, there seems to be a shift in Tehran's stance, with indications that Iran is not planning an immediate response. A regional intelligence source suggested that direct state-to-state strikes between Iran and Israel might have reached a temporary halt.

While the extent of the damage from the strikes remains unclear, footage circulated on social media purportedly shows anti-aircraft fire over Isfahan. The incident has heightened fears of further escalations and retaliatory actions.

Amid rising tensions, dialogue between US and Israeli defense officials continued, with discussions on potential ramifications of the strikes. However, neither Israel nor the US has officially commented on the incident.

As the situation unfolds, concerns persist regarding the potential for an escalation of hostilities and the destabilization of the region. Photo by Arad Mojtahedi, Wikimedia commons.