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Iran says it gave warning 72 hours before attacking Israel. Not true, US says

WorldIran says it gave warning 72 hours before attacking Israel. Not true, US says


Israel has over the years established – often with the help of the US – a multilayered air-defence network that includes systems capable of intercepting a variety of threats, including long-range missiles, cruise missiles, drones and short-range rockets.

A drone being launched in an undisclosed area in Iran. Photo: Tasnim News Agancy via dpa

That system, along with collaboration with the US and others, helped thwart what could have been a far more devastating assault at a time when Israel is already deeply engaged in Gaza as well as low-level fighting on its northern border with Lebanon’s Hezbollah militia. Both Hamas and Hezbollah are backed by Iran.

Iranian Foreign Minister Hossein Amirabdollahian said on Sunday that Iran gave neighbouring countries and Israel’s ally the United States 72 hours’ notice it would launch the strikes.

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Turkey’s Foreign Ministry said it had spoken to both Washington and Tehran before the attack, adding it had conveyed messages as an intermediary to be sure reactions were proportionate.

“Iran said the reaction would be a response to Israel’s attack on its embassy in Damascus and that it would not go beyond this. We were aware of the possibilities. The developments were not a surprise,” said a Turkish diplomatic source.

One senior official in US President Joe Biden’s administration denied Amirabdollahian’s statement, saying Washington did have contact with Iran through Swiss intermediaries but did not get notice 72 hours in advance.

“That is absolutely not true,” the official said. “They did not give a notification, nor did they give any sense of … ‘these will be the targets, so evacuate them’.”

Tehran sent the United States a message only after the strikes began and the intent was to be “highly destructive” said the official, adding that Iran’s claim of a widespread warning may be an attempt to compensate for the lack of any major damage from the attack.

“We received a message from the Iranians as this was ongoing, through the Swiss. This was basically suggesting that they were finished after this, but it was still an ongoing attack. So that was (their) message to us,” the US official said.

An Israeli air base sustained minor damage. Photo: Israel Defence Forces via Reuters

Iraqi, Turkish and Jordanian officials each said Iran had provided early warning of the attack last week, including some details.

The attack with drones, cruise missiles and ballistic missiles risked causing major casualties and escalating the conflict.

US officials said on Friday and Saturday they expected an imminent attack and urged Iran against one, with Biden tersely saying his only message to Tehran was: “Don’t”.

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Two Iraqi sources, including a government security adviser and a security official, said Iran had used diplomatic channels to inform Baghdad about the attack at least three days before it happened.

The exact timing of the attack was not disclosed at that point, but was passed to Iraqi security and military authorities hours before the strikes, allowing Baghdad to close its airspace and avoid fatal accidents.

“The government clearly understood from the Iranian officials that the US military in Iraq was also aware of the attack in advance,” said the Iraqi security official.

An Israeli F-15 after an interception mission. Photo: Israel Defence Forces via Reuters

A senior Jordanian official said Iran had summoned Arab envoys in Tehran on Wednesday to inform them of their intention to carry out an attack, though it did not specify the timing.

Asked if Iran had also given details about the targets and kind of weapons to be used, the Jordanian source did not respond directly but indicated that that was the case.

An Iranian source briefed on the matter said Iran had informed the US through diplomatic channels that included Qatar, Turkey and Switzerland about the scheduled day of the attack, saying it would be conducted in a manner to avoid provoking a response.

How far escalation can be avoided remains in question. Biden has told Israel the United States will not join any Israeli retaliation, the US official said.

Israel’s War Cabinet met late Sunday to discuss a possible response, but an Israeli official familiar with the talks said no decisions had been made. He spoke on condition of anonymity because he was discussing confidential deliberations.

Asked about plans for retaliation, Israeli military spokesman, Rear Admiral Daniel Hagari declined to comment directly. “We are at high readiness in all fronts,” he said.

“We will build a regional coalition and collect the price from Iran, in the way and at the time that suits us,” said a key War Cabinet member, Benny Gantz.

Additional reporting by Associated Press



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