Iran says it thwarted drone strikes on military sites

Bomb-laden drones targeted an Iranian defense factory in the central city of Isfahan overnight, causing some damage to the factory, Iran’s leaders said early Sunday morning.

Iran’s defense ministry did not provide information on who was suspected of carrying out the attack.

Details about the attack in Isfahan, which occurred around 11:30 pm on Saturday, are still lacking. A Defense Department statement said he had three drones launched at the facility, two of which he shot down. The ministry said one-third of the crashes hit buildings and caused “minor damage” to roofs, but no one was injured.

Press TV, the English-language arm of Iran’s state television, said drones were flying along the busy Imam Khomeini highway heading northeast from Isfahan as one of several ways for drivers to reach Iran’s capital Qom and Tehran. It aired a mobile phone video showing the moment of the collision. A small crowd, presumably drawn by the anti-aircraft fire, stood huddled together as they watched the explosions and sparks crash into the dark building. Those who were there fled after the strike.

The Ministry of Defense simply referred to the site as a “workshop,” but did not elaborate on what the site produced. Isfahan, about 350 kilometers (215 mi) south of Tehran, is home to both a large air base built for his fleet of American-made F-14 fighters, and a nuclear fuel research and production center.

Separately, a refinery fire in northwestern Iran triggered a nearby 5.9-magnitude earthquake, killing two people.

Iranian state television reported that a fire broke out at an oil refinery in an industrial area near Tabriz in the northwest. He said the cause was not yet known, as footage showed firefighters trying to extinguish the blaze.

State television also said a 5.9-magnitude earthquake hit a rural area in West Azerbaijan province, killing two people and injuring about 580 more, damaging many village buildings.

Iran and Israel have long engaged in a shadow war involving covert attacks on Iran’s military and nuclear facilities.

Iran said last year that an unexplained incident at the Parchin military and weapons development base east of the capital Tehran killed a technician and injured another employee. The ministry called it an accident but gave no details.

Perchin has a military base, and the International Atomic Energy Agency said it suspected Iran had tested explosive triggers that could be used in nuclear weapons.

In April 2021, Iran accused a centrifuge of being damaged in an attack on Israel’s underground Natanz nuclear facility.

Israel has not claimed responsibility for the attack, but Israeli media widely reported that the country orchestrated a devastating cyberattack that caused a power outage at its nuclear facility. Israeli authorities rarely acknowledge operations by the country’s secret military forces or Mossad intelligence services.

In 2020, Iran accused Israel of carrying out a sophisticated attack that killed a top nuclear scientist.

Iran has consistently maintained that its nuclear program is purely peaceful. U.S. intelligence, Western powers, and the International Atomic Energy Agency say Iran had a systematic nuclear weapons program until 2003.

The UN’s chief nuclear officer, Rafael Mariano Grossi, recently warned that Iran has enough highly enriched uranium to build “several” nuclear weapons if it so chooses.

Efforts to revive a 2015 agreement with world powers to limit Iran’s nuclear activities stalled last year. Both the US and Israel have pledged to prevent Iran from acquiring nuclear weapons, and neither has ruled out military action.