US intelligence warns Israel of 'imminent' and 'direct' Iranian attack

US intelligence warns Israel of 'imminent' and 'direct' Iranian attack
Iran has vowed revenge for Israel's attack on its consulate building in Damascus last week which marked a major escalation in fighting between the two foes
3 min read
12 April, 2024
US Defence Secretary Lloyd Austin was said to be annoyed that Tel Aviv did not inform Washington in advance of the Damascus strike [GETTY[

Israel is on high alert after US officials warned that Iran is planning an imminent attack on the country, as tensions ramp up in the region following an Israeli airstrike which killed senior Iranian commanders in Damascus last week.

The country is bracing for a major attack by Iran, which could include more than 100 drones and dozens of missiles within the coming 24 hours, CBS News reported on Friday.

Several nations, including India, Russia and France, issued warnings to citizens against travel to the Middle East, following the warnings of an incoming attack from Tehran.

On Thursday, the US embassy in Israel restricted movement for its staff, ordering them not to leave Tel Aviv, Jerusalem and Be’er Sheva "out of an abundance of caution".

The US government believes a major missile or drone strike by Iran or its proxies in the region against Israeli targets in the north or south of the country could take place on Friday or Saturday, according to reports.

Defence Secretary Lloyd Austin has reassured Israel that it can count on "full US support" in a call with his Israeli counterpart late on Thursday.

US newspaper The Wall Street Journal, citing US officials, reported that American intelligence indicated that an Iranian strike could take place "possibly on Israeli soil".

It is understood that Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei has been presented with several options, which include a direct hit on Israel, but no decision has been made.

Iranian allied groups in the region, such as Islamic Resistance groups in Iraq and Syria or Hezbollah in Lebanon, could serve as proxies for a direct hit on Israel considering their geographical positioning.

Since October, attacks by Iranian allied groups against Israeli or US assets have ramped up in light of Israel's offensive in Gaza.

Earlier this week, the Israeli military said it conducted strikes against Hezbollah targets in Syria. Its fighter jets have struck Damascus numerous times over the past few months, taking out several Iranian commanders

But the 1 April strike on a consulate building in Damascus marked a major escalation in animosity between the two foes and triggered fears of a greater war beyond Gaza.

It killed some 16 people, including seven members of Iran's Revolutionary Guards, members of the Lebanese militia group Hezbollah and four Syrian citizens.

On Wednesday, Khamenei repeated promises of a revenge attack during an address to mark Eid al-Fitr in Tehran.

"When they attacked our consulate area, it was like they attacked our territory," Khamenei said.

"The evil regime must be punished, and it will be punished".

There has been frantic speculation about an Iranian rebuke, with analysts describing it as a 'when, not if' situation.

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US Central Command chief General Michael Erik Kurilla flew to Tel Aviv and met with Israeli Defence Minister Yoav Gallant on Friday to discuss the country's "readiness for an Iranian attack".

Meanwhile, Israel's closest ally was reportedly peeved that it was not informed in advance of the Damascus strike.

US officials, cited in The Washington Post on Thursday, said the Pentagon believed Israel should have been made aware of the attack because of its serious ramifications for US military assets in the region.

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said on Thursday that Israel would not hesitate to engage with Iran. "Whoever harms us, we will harm them," he said.

Tehran's mission to the United Nations said that if the Israeli attack on the consulate had been condemned by the UN Security Council, it would have averted the need for Iran to strike back.