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Iran fires air defense batteries in provinces as sound of explosions heard near Isfahan

By AP

Published : April 19, 2024 - 11:50

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Iran's Foreign Minister Hossein Amir-Abdollahian signs a visitor's book before a meeting with United Nations Secretary-General Antonio Guterres at United Nations headquarters, Thursday. (AP-Yonhap) Iran's Foreign Minister Hossein Amir-Abdollahian signs a visitor's book before a meeting with United Nations Secretary-General Antonio Guterres at United Nations headquarters, Thursday. (AP-Yonhap)

Iran fired air defense batteries early Friday morning after reports of explosions near the city of Isfahan, the state-run IRNA news agency reported.

It remained unclear if the country was under attack. However, tensions remain high in the wider Middle East after Iran’s unprecedented missile-and-drone attack on Israel. One government official suggested sites may have been targeted by drones.

The Israeli military did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

IRNA said the defenses fired across several provinces. It did not elaborate on what caused the batteries to fire, though people across the area reported hearing the sounds.

The semiofficial Fars and Tasnim news agencies reported the sound of blasts, without giving a cause. State television acknowledged “loud noise" in the area.

Isfahan is home to a major airbase for the Iranian military, as well as sites associated with its nuclear program.

Dubai-based carriers Emirates and FlyDubai began diverting around western Iran about 4:30 a.m. local time. They offered no explanation, though local warnings to aviators suggested the airspace may have been closed.

Iran later announced it grounded commercial flights in Tehran and across areas of its western and central regions. Loudspeakers informed customers of the incident at Imam Khomeini International Airport in Tehran, online videos purported to show.

Iranian state television began a scrolling, on-screen alert acknowledging a “loud noise” near Isfahan, without immediately elaborating.

Hossein Dalirian, a spokesman for Iran's civilian space program, said on the X social media platform that several small “quadcopter” drones had been shot down. It wasn't immediately clear where that happened or if it was part of the ongoing incident in Iran. (AP)