Bullish Iran hails attack on Israel as a success and says operation is over | Iran

A bullish Iranian government hailed its unprecedented direct strike on Israel as a success and said that as far as it was concerned the military operation was now over, saying it had struck most of the military targets it had intended as a reprisal for the Israeli assault on Iran’s consulate in Damascus on 1 April.

The chief of the general staff, Gen Mohammad Bagheri, claimed that an Israeli intelligence centre close to the Syrian border and an airbase had been destroyed “to a significant extent and put out of operation”.

Iran says the large Israeli airbase, nine miles (15km) south-east of Beersheba, near moshav Nevatim in the Negev desert, had been used by Israeli F-35s in its strike on Iran’s consulate.

Ignoring the fact that almost all the drones dispatched from Iran had been shot down by Israeli, US, British and French forces, Bagheri hailed Operation True Promise as “a well-planned attack with appropriate design … that neither the Iron Dome nor the missile defence shield of the Zionist regime could significantly counter. This operation achieved its goal.”

He said the operation had been carried out only by forces from the Islamic Revolutionary Guards (IRGC).

Crucially, he added that the operation, which had been telegraphed by Iran for days in advance, was from its point of view over. “We see this operation as a result, and in our opinion, as over and there is no intention to continue it, and if the Zionist regime takes action against us, either on our soil or in the centres belonging to us in Syria, or another country does, our next operation will be bigger.” He said the operation could have been 10 times larger.

He insisted the only targets had been military and Iran had been acting in self-defence, a point Iranian diplomats will make to the UN security council in New York later on Sunday.

The assertion that the operation, undertaken from 15 different cities, is over is a central component of Iran’s diplomatic efforts to put pressure on western powers to use their leverage to prevent a large-scale Israeli response that leads to a vortex of violence.

Explosions seen over Israel and West Bank after Iran launches drones and missiles – video

Iran’s president, Ebrahim Raisi, urged Israel’s allies to appreciate that Iran’s actions had been “proportionate and responsible” in contrast to six months of Israeli breaches of international law.

The commander of the IRGC, Hossein Salami, also claimed Iran had achieved its objectives, a belief that some western diplomats will not be eager to dispel in the interests of dampening the crisis.

He said the Middle East had been changed by Iran’s strategic choices and that “a new equation” had been established. “If Israel attacks there will be a response by Iran,” he said. “This operation could have been a large-scale operation, but we limited the scope of the operation to that part of the capabilities that the Zionist regime had used to attack the embassy of the Islamic Republic of Iran and martyr the commanders.”

Inside Iran there has been no official admission that 99% of the drones were shot down, but the lack of structural damage in Israel will only matter if it takes hold within Iran that the regime was attempting something more effective, and was thwarted by Israel and its allies, undermining its claim that it has reimposed a deterrent on future Israeli action.

Tehran, which informed the Gulf monarchies in advance, will not be surprised by their lack of overt support. Tehran accused the governments of Jordan and Iraq of being active in trying to block the drones over their airspace bound for Israel. Crowds have been gathering outside the US embassy in Amman for nearly a fortnight, so the mood in Jordan is volatile.

The Gulf states queued up to urge restraint. The United Arab Emirates called on all sides to reply through diplomatic channels, and Saudi Arabia urged the security council “to act to prevent the crisis from escalating”. Jordan’s foreign minister, Ayman Safadi, said: “The first step towards de-escalation is ending the Israeli aggression on Gaza and starting to implement the two-state solution.”

Iranian international relations experts claimed Iran’s attack had been calculated and limited.

Mohsen Abdollahi, a Tehran -based professor, said: “Iran’s defensive attacks against a decade of Israeli cyber and military attacks on civilian targets and individuals in Iran were limited and had the lowest human casualties – why? Because Iran did not want to expand the war in the region. The message of Iran’s attack is: ‘Stop the attack on Iran or you will face a real attack’.”

A woman walks next to a wall painting of Iranian Revolutionary Guards in Tehran on Sunday. Photograph: Abedin Taherkenareh/EPA

Abdolrasool Divsallar, an Iranian working for the UN Institute for Disarmament Research, said the attack “marks the collective failure of Israeli and US understanding of Iran’s strategic thinking. An overconfidence about knowing Iran and that Iran won’t respond directly led to a strategic mistake of attacking the Iranian consulate”.

He added: “The only remaining way now to de-escalate and prevent a full-scale war in the Middle East is to convince Israel to refrain from response and avoid hitting back. US, UK and EU could have a major role in conflict management now, instead of side-taking.”

Some Iranian reformist ex-diplomats voiced fears that some of the sympathy Israel had forfeited over the past six months in Gaza would now be restored, but said this may be a necessary price to restore Iran’s sovereignty. They pointed to the expressions of support for Iran in the Muslim world, and added that public sympathy alone had gained Gaza nothing.

Iran remains angry that the US, France and Britain blocked a UN security council statement prepared the day after the strike on the Iranian consulate that would have criticised Israel for violating the sanctity of a diplomatic building. Across the mainstream Iranian political establishment, the criticisms issued by the west of its actions are seen as another glaring example of double standards in view of the relative silence after Israel’s attack in Damascus.

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