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Iran and Israel appear to pull back from brink of war

Both sides on Saturday appeared to step back from wider conflict resulting from the Gaza war, as Iran dismissed Israel's reported retaliation for an unprecedented Iranian strike as child's play.

Published April 20,2024

Iran has dismissed as akin to child's play Israel's reported retaliation for an unprecedented Iranian strike, as both sides on Saturday appeared to step back from wider conflict stemming from the war in Gaza.

Fears have soared this month that escalating tit-for-tat attacks between Israel and Iran could tip over into a broader war in the Middle East.

Israel had warned it would hit back after Iran launched more than 300 missiles and drones a week ago in its first-ever direct attack on its arch enemy's territory.

The Iran attack was itself in retaliation for an air strike -- widely blamed on Israel -- that levelled the Iranian consulate in Damascus and killed seven Revolutionary Guards on April 1.

The Israeli retaliation appeared to come on Friday, when Iranian media reported blasts in the central province of Isfahan.

Fars news agency reported "three explosions" close to Qahjavarestan, near Isfahan airport and the 8th Shekari army airbase.

"What happened last night was no attack," Iranian Foreign Minister Hossein Amir-Abdollahian told NBC News.

"It was the flight of two or three quadcopters, which are at the level of toys that our children use in Iran," he added.

"As long as there is no new adventure on behalf of the Israeli regime against Iran's interests, we will have no response."

Israeli officials have made no public comment on what -- according to a senior US congressional source who spoke to AFP -- were retaliatory Israeli strikes against Iran.

Sanam Vakil, director of the Middle East and North Africa programme at Britain's Chatham House think tank, said the reported Israeli strike had been "calibrated to avoid damage and further Iranian aggression".

Iranian political expert Hamid Gholamzadeh said the incident in Isfahan, while "insignificant", needs to be seen in the context of the "fight for balance of power" between the two countries.

"The region is on fire and an all-out war can be ignited any moment," he said.