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Sunak calls for "calm heads" after reported Israeli strike on Iran

Fri, 19th Apr 2024 11:46

(Alliance News) - Rishi Sunak has called for "calm heads" to prevail amid reports of a retaliatory attack by Israel against Iran.

The UK prime minister said it would not be right for him to speculate on the reports, but said Israel "absolutely has the right to self defence" while also warning the UK's ally to avoid "significant escalation".

Iran said it fired air defence systems early on Friday at an air base and nuclear site near the city of Isfahan to shoot down drones, which are suspected to be part of an Israeli operation days after it was targeted by a barrage of Iranian drones and missiles.

Tel Aviv has not commented publicly, but unnamed US officials said Israel carried out the airstrikes, according to reports.

Asked about the incident after a speech on welfare reform in London on Friday, Sunak said: "As you would appreciate, it's a developing situation.

"It wouldn't be right for me to speculate until the facts become clear, and we're working to confirm the details together with allies. We have condemned Iran's reckless and dangerous barrage of missiles against Israel on Saturday, and Israel absolutely has the right to self defence.

"But as I said to Prime Minister Netanyahu when I spoke to him last week, and more generally, significant escalation is not in anyone's interest. What we want to see is calm heads prevail across the region."

Foreign Secretary Lord David Cameron is discussing the developments with counterparts at the G7 foreign ministers meeting in Italy.

Tehran has sought to play down the attack and signalled it had no plans for retaliation.

Cabinet minister Mel Stride said the UK was "pressing our Israeli allies and others in the region to really work hard towards de-escalation".

The Work & Pensions Secretary declined to say whether the UK would support Israel's reported strikes in Iran if confirmed, or any further action.

"I don't want to get into hypotheticals," he told Sky News.

"We are very firmly engaged in counselling de-escalation and moderation at this particular moment."

Tel Aviv had vowed to respond to Iran's weekend attack, despite calls for restraint from allies, some of whom – including the UK, US and France – helped Israel repel Tehran's unprecedented drone and missile barrage.

The onslaught followed Israel's targeting of an Iranian diplomatic compound in Syria earlier this month.

The two arch foes have waged a shadow war for decades, but the strike over the weekend was the first direct Iranian military attack on Israeli soil.

By Sophie Wingate, PA Deputy Political Editor

Press Association: News

source: PA

Copyright 2024 Alliance News Ltd. All Rights Reserved.

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