DUBAI, United Arab Emirates — (AP) — Bomb-carrying drones shot an Iranian defense factory in the central city of Isfahan overnight, authorities said earlier on Sunday, causing some damage at the plant amid heightened regional and international tensions engulfing the Islamic Republic.
Details on the Isfahan attack, which happened around 11:30 p.m. Saturday, remained scarce. A Defense Ministry statement described three drones being launched at the facility, with two of them successfully shot down. A third apparently made it through to strike the building, causing “minor damage” to its roof and wounding no one, the ministry said.
Iranian state television, Press TV, aired mobile phone video apparently showing the moment that drone struck along the busy Imam Khomeini Expressway that heads northwest out of Isfahan. A small crowd stood gathered, drawn by anti-aircraft fire, watching as an explosion and sparks struck a dark building.
The Defense Ministry only called the site a “workshop,” without elaborating on what it made. Isfahan, some 350 kilometers (215 miles) south of Tehran, is home to both a large air base built for its fleet of American-made F-14 fighter jets and its Nuclear Fuel Research and Production Center.
The attack comes after Iran’s Intelligence Ministry in July claimed to have broken up a plot to target sensitive sites around Isfahan. A segment aired on Iranian state TV in October included purported confessions by alleged members of Komala, a Kurdish opposition party that is exiled from Iran and now lives in Iraq, that they planned to target a military aerospace facility in Isfahan after being trained by Israel’s Mossad intelligence service.
Separately, Iran’s state TV said a fire broke out at an oil refinery in an industrial zone near the northwestern city of Tabriz. It said the cause was not yet known, as it showed footage of firefighters trying to extinguish the blaze. Tabriz is some 520 kilometers (325 miles) northwest of Tehran.
Nationwide protests have shaken the country since the September death of Mahsa Amini, a Kurdish-Iranian woman detained by the country’s morality police. Its rial currency has plummeted to new lows against the U.S. dollar. Meanwhile, Iran continues to arm Russia with the bomb-carrying drone that Moscow uses in attacks in Ukraine on power plants and civilian targets.
Israel is suspected of launching a series of attacks on Iran, including an April 2021 assault on its underground Natanz nuclear facility that damaged its centrifuges. In 2020, Iran blamed Israel for a sophisticated attack that killed its top military nuclear scientist.
Anwar Gargash, a senior Emirati diplomat, warned online that the Isfahan attack represented one more event in the “dangerous escalation the region is witnessing.” The United Arab Emirates was targeted in missile and drone attacks last year claimed by Yemen’s Iran-backed Houthi rebels.
It “is not in the interest of the region and its future,” Gargash wrote on Twitter. “Although the problems of the region are complex, there is no alternative to dialogue.”