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Iran launches barrage of strikes toward Israel

What we covered

  • The Middle East has been plunged deeper into uncharted waters after Iran launched dozens of missiles and drones from its territory toward Israel in an unprecedented five-hour strike.
  • The vast majority of missiles were intercepted outside Israel's territory by aerial defense systems, its military said. There have been no reports of injuries suffered directly through Iranian strikes, according to Israel’s emergency service.
  • Iran's foreign ministry said the attack was in retaliation to a deadly Israeli strike on the Iranian consulate in Damascus, Syria, earlier this month.
  • President Joe Biden made clear US will not participate in any offensive operations against Iran, according to a senior administration official. But he said Washington's commitment to Israel’s security against Iranian threats remains "ironclad."
  • US forces intercepted more than 70 drones and at least three ballistic missiles, according to US officials. The US assessment is that Iran’s attacks had been largely unsuccessful.
  • Here's how to help humanitarian efforts in Gaza and Israel.
12:36 a.m. ET, April 14, 2024

Our live coverage of Iran's attack on Israel has moved here.
12:31 a.m. ET, April 14, 2024

Iran warns its response will be "stronger and more resolute" if Israel retaliates following latest strikes

An anti-missile system operates as seen from Ashkelon, Israel, on Sunday. Amir Cohen/Reuters

Iran has warned that it will respond with more force if Israel retaliates over this weekend's strikes, which Tehran said were themselves a reply to an Israeli attack earlier this month on its embassy complex in Syria's capital Damascus.

“The Islamic Republic of Iran will not hesitate to exercise its inherent right of self-defense when required," Iran’s Ambassador and Permanent Representative to the UN, Amir Saeid Iravani, said in a statement.

Should the Israeli regime commit any military aggression again, Iran's response will assuredly and decisively be stronger and more resolute,” Ambassador Iravani added.

Citing self-defense against repeated Israeli military aggressions, Iravani said the strikes were specifically in retaliation to an Israeli attack on April 1 against what Iran says were diplomatic facilities in Damascus.

Iran claims the attack violated international law and led to the death of seven Iranian military advisors, including key commanders from the Iranian Revolutionary Guard Corps.

The statement also criticizes the United Nations Security Council for “failing to uphold international peace,” allowing Israel to “breach” established international norms and “escalate” regional tensions.

Additional context: Israel has carried out numerous strikes on Iran-backed targets in Syria, often targeting weapons shipments allegedly intended for Hezbollah, a powerful Iranian proxy in Lebanon. 

Israel has not claimed responsibility for the April 1 attack which destroyed an Iranian consulate building in the capital Damascus, including Mohammed Reza Zahedi, a top Revolutionary Guards commander.

However an Israel Defense Forces spokesman told CNN that their intelligence showed the building was not a consulate and was instead “a military building of Quds forces disguised as a civilian building.”

12:08 a.m. ET, April 14, 2024

China expresses 'deep concern', calls for ceasefire

China has expressed "deep concern" over the "current escalation" following Iran's attack on Israel, according to a spokesperson for its Ministry of Foreign Affairs on Sunday, adding that it is a "spillover of the Gaza conflict" and a ceasefire should be implemented without delay.

In a statement, China called "on relevant parties to exercise calm and restraint to prevent further escalations."

"The ongoing situation is the latest spillover of the Gaza conflict," the spokesperson said, adding that a UN Security Council resolution calling for a ceasefire between Israel and Hamas should be implemented without any more delay.

Beijing did not name or condemn Hamas in the wake of the initial October 7 attacks. Since then, it has condemned the war and been a vocal proponent of an immediate ceasefire and the implementation of a “two-state” solution.
Last month, Chinese diplomat Wang Kejian met Hamas political leader Ismail Haniyeh in Qatar, the first meeting between a Chinese and Hamas official publicly acknowledged by Beijing since the outbreak of the war in Gaza.
Wang’s visit follows efforts by Beijing to step up its profile as a peace broker in the Middle East conflict.
11:45 p.m. ET, April 13, 2024

US forces intercepted 70+ drones and at least three ballistic missiles, US officials say

US forces intercepted more than 70 one-way attack drones and at least three ballistic missiles during Iran's attack on Israel, according to two US officials familiar with the situation.

The ballistic missiles were intercepted by warships in the eastern Mediterranean Sea, one of the officials said. Iran launched more than 100 ballistic missiles in total at Israel, according to a senior administration official.

The US Navy currently has two destroyers in that area, both are guided missile destroyers capable of intercepting missile and drone launches.

US fighter jets were also part of the response to Iran’s attack on Saturday and shot down drones launched towards Israel, another US official told CNN.

11:40 p.m. ET, April 13, 2024

Biden to meet with G7 leaders Sunday as he condemns Iran's "brazen attack"

US President Joe Biden will meet with G7 leaders Sunday “to coordinate a united diplomatic response to Iran’s brazen attack,” according to a statement released by the White House. 

“My team will engage with their counterparts across the region. And we will stay in close touch with Israel’s leaders,” the statement from Biden reads. “And while we have not seen attacks on our forces or facilities today, we will remain vigilant to all threats and will not hesitate to take all necessary action to protect our people.”

US defensive assets moved to the region earlier this week and “helped Israel take down nearly all of the incoming drones and missiles,” according to the statement.

Biden also spoke to Israeli Prime Minister Netanyahu following Saturday’s attack “to reaffirm America’s ironclad commitment to the security of Israel.” 

I told him that Israel demonstrated a remarkable capacity to defend against and defeat even unprecedented attacks – sending a clear message to its foes that they cannot effectively threaten the security of Israel,” the president wrote.
11:37 p.m. ET, April 13, 2024

United Airlines cancels three Middle East flights

At least three United Airlines flights headed to or departing from the Middle East have been canceled amid the ongoing conflict unfolding between Iran and Israel.

On Saturday a flight from Newark, New Jersey to Tel Aviv, a flight from Washington D.C. to Amman, Jordan, and one from Dubai to Newark were canceled, the airline told CNN in a statement.

We are closely monitoring the situation and will make decisions on upcoming flights with a focus on the safety of our customers and crews,” the airline said.

There have been no changes to any Sunday flights for United as of Saturday night, according to the airline. 

CNN has reached out to other airlines regarding cancellations.

11:22 p.m. ET, April 13, 2024

Biden told Netanyahu US will not participate in offensive operations against Iran, US official says

A US Marine guards the entrance to the West Wing of the White House on Saturday. Shawn Thew/EPA/Bloomberg/Getty Images

The US will not participate in any offensive operations against Iran, US President Joe Biden has made clear to Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, a senior administration official told CNN.

The comments were relayed during the phone call that the two leaders shared in the aftermath of Iran's retaliatory strikes against Israel.

11:13 p.m. ET, April 13, 2024

Biden tells Netanyahu tonight was a win, nothing of "value" hit in Israel, US official says 

Israel should consider tonight a win because the current US assessment is that Iran’s attacks had been largely unsuccessful and demonstrated Israel’s superior military capability, President Joe Biden told Israel Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu in their phone call, a senior administration official told CNN.

The US’s assessment tonight was that almost all of the drones and missiles – including more than 100 ballistic missiles -- launched by Iran had been knocked out of the sky. No cruise missile made impact, the official said, and nothing of “value” was hit.��
11:21 p.m. ET, April 13, 2024

Bolton: 'Passivity at this point for Israel would be a big mistake'

John Bolton, the former US national security adviser and ambassador to the UN, said “passivity at this point for Israel would be a big mistake,” warning of more attacks. 

“This is not time to play academic games and message and signal. This is a question of power,” Bolton told CNN’s Wolf Blitzer. "If they came from a different location containing nuclear warheads, Israel might not be so lucky.”

A known Iran policy hawk, Bolton served in senior national security positions during the Trump and Bush administrations. A neoconservative, Bolton has in the past advocated war with Iran and a pre-emptive strike on North Korea.
In 2022, he was the target of an alleged assassination attempt orchestrated by a member of Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps. 

He has warned against underestimating Iran’s nuclear program, which Tehran has said is for peaceful purposes only.

“I think we have enough experience with faulty intelligence by now, not to be so sure, not to know how much of Iran’s uranium enrichment program is really being conducted under a mountain in North Korea,” Bolton said.

If Tehran sent “a wire transfer to Pyongyang,” it would give the North Koreans “enough time to put a couple of warheads on an airplane and fly them to Tehran. (But) if you take away their nuclear capability, that would be a dramatic hit to the regime, maybe enough to topple it.”