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Not True, Says US As Iran Claims It Gave Warning Of Attack On Israel Beforehand

khammeini, Iran
Iran's Supreme Leader, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, meets with the family of one of the members of the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps, in Tehran (Photo: Reuters)

Iran’s foreign minister Hossein Amir Abdollahian said on Sunday that Iran had given ample notice regarding the strikes. According to the Iranian foreign minister, Iran had informed neighbouring countries and even the US seven hours beforehand that it would launch strikes.

The Iranian foreign minister’s assertion was backed up by Turkish, Jordanian and Iraqi officials on Sunday, with a Turkish diplomatic source stating that Turkey’s Foreign Ministry said it had spoken to both Washington and Tehran before the attack, adding it had conveyed messages as an intermediary to be sure reactions were proportionate.

“Iran said the reaction would be a response to Israel’s attack on its embassy in Damascus and that it would not go beyond this. We were aware of the possibilities. The developments were not a surprise,” a Turkish diplomatic source said.

From the Iraqi side, two Iraqi sources, including a government security adviser and a security official, said Iran had used diplomatic channels to inform Baghdad about the attack at least three days before it happened.

Iran launched hundreds of drones and missiles on Saturday in a retaliatory strike after a suspected Israeli strike on its embassy compound in Syria. Most of the drones and missiles were downed before reaching Israeli territory, though a young girl was critically injured and there were widespread concerns of further escalation.

The US denied Iran’s claims, with a senior official in President Joe Biden’s administration denied Amirabdollahian’s statement, saying Washington did have contact with Iran through Swiss intermediaries but did not get notice 72 hours in advance.

“That is absolutely not true,” the official said. “They did not give a notification, nor did they give any sense of … ‘these will be the targets, so evacuate them.” He claimed that Iran sent the United States a message only after the strikes began and the intent was to be “highly destructive”, adding that Iran’s claim of a widespread warning may be an attempt to compensate for the lack of any major damage from the attack.

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“We received a message from the Iranians as this was ongoing, through the Swiss. This was basically suggesting that they were finished after this, but it was still an ongoing attack. So that was (their) message to us,” the US official said.

Indications that an Iranian response was likely when President Biden had stated on Friday in a White House briefing that an attack by Iran on Israel could come “sooner rather than later.” He warned Tehran against doing so and said that the US was committed to the defence of Israel.

“Don’t,” said Biden during the press briefing in a message to Iran.

Post the attack, the US president has made it clear to Israel that he would not join in any retaliation against Iran. Israel called for an emergency UNSC meeting on Sunday and Biden held a virtual G7 meeting to discuss an “urgent diplomatic response” for Iran’s actions.

Israeli minister Benny Gantz said on Sunday that Israel is still weighing its response and will “exact the price from Iran in the fashion and timing that is right for us.”

(With inputs from Reuters)