Return to Transcripts main page

CNN Newsroom

99% of Iran's Missiles Launched at Israel Were Intercepted; Netanyahu Reacts to Iran's Attack on Social Media; Iran Fired Around 300 Missiles and Drones Toward Israel, according to the IDF; Following the Iranian Attacks, Biden Talks with Netanyahu; U.S. Won't Take Part in Aggressive Action Against Iran, Biden Informs Israel; If America Supports Israel's Reprisal, U.S. Bases will be Assaulted, Says Iran Military Leader; Iran Celebrates Strikes on Israel; Attack on Israel in Retaliation for the Damascus Consulate Strike Ended, According to Iran's U.N. Mission; Biden Will Meet with Leaders of the G7 to Plan How They'll Respond; Iran's Strikes on Israel Do Not Specifically Target American Military; Officials: U.S. Sees Iran's Attack as Disproportionate; More Than 70 Drones and Three Ballistic Missiles Intercepted by U.S. Soldiers; Response to Iran's Attack on Israel on a Worldwide Scale; Iran Warns U.S. and Israel Not to Launch Any Further Strikes; Israel-Hamas War. Aired 4-5a ET

Aired April 14, 2024 - 04:00   ET




ANNOUNCER: This is CNN. More people get their news from CNN than any other news source.This is CNN Breaking News.

ALEX MARQUARDT, CNN SENIOR NATIONAL SECURITY CORRESPONDENT: Hello and welcome to our viewers here in the United States and all around the world. I'm Alex Marquardt live in Washington this morning with our continuing breaking news coverage of Iran's overnight strike on Israel.

In Israel, it is now 11:00 a.m. and there is an uneasy calm life getting back to normal following a massive historic and unprecedented Iranian attack overnight. The IDF says that more than --



MARQUARDT: -- you can hear there -- the sirens going off. Interceptors in the sky. The IDF says that more than 300 missiles and drones were fired on Israel overnight. 99 percent of them, according to Israel, were shot down. Those few that got through hit an air base in the Negev, that's in Southern Israel, but they just caused minor damage. Tehran says that the attack was their response, their retaliation to an Israeli strike last week on Iran's embassy last week in Damascus that left some seven members of the Revolutionary Guard, including a senior commander dead. But now Iran is saying is the matter can be regarded as concluded after this retaliation. At the same time, Israel's foreign minister is now repeating an earlier statement that if Iran attacks inside Israel, Israel will then have to strike inside Iran, and that is the main concern right now. U.S. President Joe Biden has spoken with his Israeli counterpart, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu. They spoke by phone.

According to a U.S. official, President Biden said that the attacks had largely failed. Which meant, he said, this was a win for Israel. Prime Minister Netanyahu also posted a statement on social media, you can see right there, saying, "We have intercepted. We have contained. We shall win."

Now, that the attacks are over and they lasted some five hours, airspace in Israel, Jordan, and Iraq have all reopened, and you can see all of that air traffic there in the sky throughout the region. Notably, you can see that big blank spot there in the middle over Iraq, but airlines are also avoiding flying over Iran, which includes a vital corridor for global commercial travel.

I want to get to CNN's International and Diplomatic Editor Nic Robertson. He's in Jerusalem. Nic, you have been on air reporting since the very moment those first sirens sounded in the wee hours of the morning over Jerusalem. Telling us about the intercepts that were going up to take down the drones and the missiles that were incoming.

It appears that life is slowly returning to normal in Israel. What's the latest from there? And what sense are you getting about what may still be to come?

NIC ROBERTSON, CNN INTERNATIONAL DIPLOMATIC EDITOR: Yes, I think that there's two strains of thought, if you will, that are being expressed by leading politicians. President Herzog today saying that, congratulations to the army, to the air force, to the intelligence services for a job well done. Thanking the United States, President Biden and the White House as well.

Which really -- sort of, I think, underscores how really -- how big a sense of relief there is here that Iran could fire so many missiles, 170 drones, 30 cruise missiles, and 120 ballistic missiles and the attack being deterred so effectively. But as you just mentioned, the foreign minister, Israel Katz, has said that what he said last week stands. That an attack by Iran on Israel will bring an attack by Israel on Iran. And certainly, what the prime minister is saying that together we will win implies that that is still a possibility. And the defense minister has also left the door open there.

What I'm struck by, as we stand here right now watching the dynamic play out at the moment, within the narrative that emerges from officials in Israel. Overnight, we understood that there had been a security cabinet meeting that had then determined that they would leave the decision of how Israel would respond to the war cabinet. And the implication was a war cabinet would be meeting in fairly short order.

[04:05:00] Well, we haven't heard anything about, A, the war cabinet meeting or if they have what they've determined there's a broader cabinet session expected later this afternoon here in several hours. So, that sort of implies that whatever public position Israel is going to emerge and take over striking back or not to Iran, this is sort of getting a little more thought and a little more time put into it. But I don't think anyone should be under the misguided apprehension that Israel doesn't actually want to strike back. That's the expectation.

MARQUARDT: Nic, talk to us about the U.S. of it all because of course the U.S. as well as other allies like the United Kingdom, they came to Israel to aid last night. The U.S. helping take down dozens, we believe, of drones and of missiles incoming. And now we understand from the White House that President Biden is telling Israel clearly that the U.S. does not support, would not support any kind of retaliation against Iran.

So, how does Israel balance this unprecedented attack and they've -- they're feeling for a need to respond with what is being said here in Washington.

ROBERTSON: Indeed, and I think we can add to that equation as well. What we've heard from Iranian officials saying that through their Swiss intermediaries, they have told the United States under -- in no uncertain terms, that if the United States was to aid Israel in a response, attacking Iran, then U.S. troops stationed in the region, their safety couldn't be guaranteed. So, that is a very clear warning from Iran.

Look, I think -- you know, what President Biden and Prime Minister Netanyahu spoke about last night or early hours of this morning. We know that they have huge differences. They have huge differences over the war in Gaza. And despite President Biden's pressure on Israel to curtail the killing of Palestinians in Gaza, some more than 33,000 now to get more aid into Gaza, it has taken a long time and an extreme amount of pressure to bring that about.

So, to think that Prime Minister Netanyahu might bend to President Biden's wishes and will that Iraq -- that Israel doesn't escalate this by retaliating against Iran. We don't know, of course. But that seems, given the recent track record, unlikely.

MARQUARDT: All right. Nic Robertson in Jerusalem, thank you so much for all of your terrific reporting overnight and into the morning. Really appreciate it.

Meanwhile, in Iran's capital, Tehran, crowds of people have gathered in the streets to celebrate. Take a listen.



MARQUARDT: Iran's state aligned Tasnim News agency showed that demonstration with people chanting, honking car horns, waving Palestinian flags in Tehran's Palestine Square, showing their support for that attack by Iran against Israel.

I want to bring in CNN's Paula Hancocks who joins us now live from Abu Dhabi. So, we've seen those scenes of celebration, Paula, despite the fact that there was no real success, if you will, in this attack against Israel. What are we hearing from Iranian leaders this morning?

PAULA HANCOCKS, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, Alex, it's worth noting that, of course, we don't know about those rallies and the celebrations. We don't know whether it was government organized, of course, and we would expect that that is not the majority or at least all of the Iranian people that feel that way. As we know, the government does not have great support among many of its people at this point.

But we are hearing from Tehran at this point. We are hearing, for example, from the commander in chief of the Revolutionary Guard, saying that whenever Israel attacks our assets, our people, we will respond from our territory. Saying that the latest operation is indicative of this new equation.

And what this really points to, Alex, is the fact that this was the first time that we saw Iran launching an attack against Israel from Iranian territory. Of course, it was the first time, but what we're hearing here in this -- from the Revolutionary Guard's commander in chief is that the first time has happened. It will be easier to do it again in the future.

So, it is really showing that this is an escalation. And then also, as Nic had mentioned, we did hear from the chief of staff saying that the military operation has concluded. And there has been a warning to the United States that any retaliation from Israel, if it has U.S. support, then that means a response from Tehran will be against U.S. bases.


We have seen dozens of attacks against U.S. bases in Syria and in Iraq over recent months. But what we're hearing overall from Tehran is that they believe that this was self-defense. They referred back to that attack, the strike on an Iranian consulate, they called it, in Damascus, which they blame on Israel, and it had killed seven people.

It killed among those seven, two commanders of the Revolutionary Guards. And they say that this was a retaliation to that. They had warned there would be a retaliation. This is what happened. And as it was on a compound that had its embassy and consulate buildings, it was effectively on Iranian soil. So, it was acting in self-defense.

Also criticizing the U.N. Security Council for not having condemned that particular attack. Of course, the question now is, what will the Israeli response be, if there is an Israeli response. And we have also heard from Tehran saying that if there is, as they call it, military aggression, Iran's response will be, "Stronger and more resolute." Alex.

MARQUARDT: Yes, very interesting to see the messaging coming from Tehran, both in the lead up and following this attack. Iran essentially saying this is just about Israel telling the U.S. to stay out of it. And then just as those air raid sirens started sounding in Jerusalem last night, Iran essentially saying, it's now over. A real effort by Tehran to compartmentalize this and perhaps hope that this is it and leave it at that. But of course, that is for now Israel to decide.

Paula Hancocks in Abu Dhabi, thank you so much for that reporting.

I want to get to -- straight to White House Reporter Kevin Liptak who joins me now. Kevin, a very busy evening at the White House. Multiple sessions in the situation room. We saw the President surrounded by his top national security officials. We know that the President has spoken with Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu. What is the latest from the White House?

KEVIN LIPTAK, CNN SENIOR WHITE HOUSE REPORTER: Yes, I think there were some tense moments in the situation room last night. And remember, Alex, President Biden had to rush back from his beach house in Delaware in order to get to those, you know, real-time monitoring devices so that he and the national security apparatus were able to watch this in real-time.

Of course, President Biden is in something of a tenuous situation here. He is hoping to prevent a wider conflict from exploding in the region while also demonstrating stalwart support for Israel and its defense against Iran. And of course, this does come at a moment of heightened tensions between himself and the Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.

But I think in the statement that the president put out last night, he is trying to make clear that there is no daylight between himself and Israel on this particular issue of defending the country against Iran. And in the statement, the president said, I've just spoken with Prime Minister Netanyahu to reaffirm America's ironclad commitment to the security of Israel.

The president goes on to say, I've told him that Israel demonstrated a remarkable capacity defend -- to defend itself against and defeat even unprecedented attacks. Sending a clear message to its foes that they cannot effectively threaten the security of Israel.

And so, I think reading between the lines of that statement and also talking to American officials, President Biden is essentially telling Netanyahu here to take the win. That they do view its response to these Iranian reprisals as successful. They don't think that Iran's drones or missiles hit anything worthwhile in Israel. The vast majority were shot out of the sky. And President Biden is essentially telling his counterpart that this should be considered a win.

The other important thing that we have heard from officials is that President Biden told Netanyahu that the U.S. would not participate in any offensive operation against Iran. So, essentially drawing a line on what the U.S. is willing to do going forward, and certainly what American officials are going to be looking for Sunday and heading into the next week is how Israel will respond to this attack. And certainly, that has been a topic of discussion since even before these drones were launched yesterday.

Now, President Biden in the statement does say that he will convene a meeting with members of the G7 later on Sunday to discuss the diplomatic efforts to contain this crisis in the region. And he also notes that he hasn't seen any attacks on U.S. forces in the region. But that he will remain vigilant to all threats and will not hesitate to take all necessary action to protect our own people. Alex.

MARQUARDT: A really important statement from the White House there. You're absolutely right, reading between the lines, it is clear that the White House is saying, just -- let's leave it at this. You did very well last night. And of course, the U.S. has a lot of leverage because there was so much American support last night and so much ongoing U.S. support for Israel's war in Gaza.


CNN's Kevin Liptak, thank you very much for joining us this morning.

I want to get right now to Sanam Vakil who is in London. She's the director of the Middle East and North Africa program at Chatham House, leading the Iran Forum Project. Sanam, thank you so much for joining us this morning. I just want to get your sense broadly. Now that the dust is settling, we know what Iran fired at Israel. We know to what extent some of the proxies got involved. Is this what you expected would unfold? What is your sense of where things will go from here?

SANAM VAKIL, MIDDLE EAST AND NORTH AFRICA PROGRAMME DIRECTOR, CHATHAM HOUSE: Well, good morning. I'm sure it's been quite a long night for you. The reaction, I think, right now is that Iran pushed back against Israel. Tried to make it clear that the past number of months of Israeli efforts at degrading Iran across the region and pushing back against the Axis of Resistance has been achieved from Iran's purposes.

Iran has directly attacked Israel, which was a bit of a surprise from my take. I think this really changes the nature of Israel and Iran's confrontation, which for the past number of decades has been very shadowy and gray, as is oftentimes described. And now, with this attack, everything is out in the open. And the onus is now on the Israeli leadership to decide if they are going to counterattack.

MARQUARDT: We've been talking about how Iran has now crossed this Rubicon in terms of directly attacking Israel from its own territory onto Israeli territory. But how does that shift things?

VAKIL: Well, it is a big escalation. Iran, for the second time in three months, has launched strikes against another country, breaching their sovereignty from Iran's perspective. This is in response to the Damascus consulate attack on its own territory. And so, it sees this attack on Israel as legitimate.

But this changes things because what we can really see, we are at the brink of a potential broader regional war and one where Israel and Iran can keep going back and forth trying to reestablish red lines and deterrence. And if Israel does respond to what it sees as a serious escalation, Iran has attacked Israeli territory for the first time ever directly. This will see Israel, perhaps, doing the same and who's going to de-escalate in this moment.

MARQUARDT: Sanam, when you look at the public statements, I'm struck by how even in the lead up to this, it appeared that Iran wanted to retaliate and send a message and save face. But that, you know, last night, as the rockets and drones were kind of entering Israeli airspace, they said, OK, this is over. And to me that says that they don't want their role, at least, to expand. They've been more than happy to have their proxies going after Israel and going after U.S. interests throughout the region for the past six months.

But do you think that Iran does now want to expand its role and have more of a direct role in this conflict, or does it still want to, sort of, lurk in the shadows?

VAKIL: Iran, since October 7th, has been abundantly clear it doesn't seek a direct role in this Gaza war. It's been quite happy to operate behind the scenes and have the Axis of Resistance continue to pressure Israel. Why this moment is so dangerous is that we are now in a new frontier. There has been a direct strike on Israel, and I do expect Israel to counterstrike.

What was quite interesting is, as you mentioned, that immediately after the strikes were launched in the middle of the night, Iran did say the operations are over. And they tried to draw a line on where they are. But -- and it's important to note that Iran's attacks were very calibrated. It took over two weeks to plan this operation. They picked their targets relatively carefully. There was no loss of life, very minimal damage, and Israel's deterrence capability succeeded. There was an international coalition that worked alongside the Israelis to make sure nothing got through.

So, this is potentially built as much more of a success for Israel than it is for Iran. But Iran can tick the boxes of showing strength, changing the nature of the adversary relationship with Israel, and at the same time, try to walk back into its defensive position.

MARQUARDT: Sanam, the United States has essentially said that Iran's response was disproportionate compared to what Israel did in Damascus.


Why did Iran feel the need to carry out something like this so dramatic? More than 300 drones and missiles in response to that Israeli strike against the consulate in Damascus?

VAKIL: Well, since the war in Gaza has begun, Israel has been simultaneously been looking to degrade Iran's positioning across its borders in Lebanon, in Syria and Iraq. And over the past six months, we have seen over 18 IRGC commanders killed, some of them very senior, alongside this strike on the Damascus consular facilities.

So, for Iran, this was really a red line. If it didn't draw a line in the sand on Israel's persistent attacks designed to push back against Iran's role in the region, I think from Iran's perspective, it saw Israel continuing this campaign against Iran. So, this was really about restoring deterrence, but we just don't know if that has been achieved just yet.

MARQUARDT: Yes, certainly the most significant strike against Iranian figure since Qasem Soleimani was killed by the U.S. some four years ago. Sanam Vakil from Chatham House in London, thank you so much for joining us this evening. Really appreciate your time and your thoughts.

VAKIL: Thank you.

MARQUARDT: And still to come, it wasn't just Iran, Hezbollah in Lebanon also launched dozens of rockets at Israel overnight. So, will these tensions now grow into a broader, more full-blown regional conflict? We'll take a look at that just ahead. Stay with us.



UNIDENTIFIED MALE: (Speaking in a foreign language).


MARQUARDT: 0Those were the scenes overnight in Southern Israel as Iran launched its attack against Israel with more than 300 drones, cruise missiles and ballistic missiles.


U.S. President Joe Biden is now expected to meet with G7 leaders to coordinate what's being called a united diplomatic response after that retaliation by Iran against Israel for Israel's attack last week against the Iranian embassy in Damascus.

President Biden also making it clear that the U.S. will not participate in offensive operations against Iran, that is according to a U.S. official. But the U.S. did help Israel dramatically during the Iranian attack last night. U.S. officials saying that American forces intercepted more than 70 Iranian drones and at least three ballistic missiles that were heading for Israel. U.S. fighter jets and warships in the Eastern Mediterranean Sea were also part of that effort.

CNN State Department Reporter Jennifer Hansler joins me now. So, Jennifer, what more are we hearing from U.S. officials today?

JENNIFER HANSLER, CNN STATE DEPARTMENT REPORTER: Well, Alex, we're really hearing across the board from U.S. officials, this widespread condemnation of Iran's attacks on Israel. We've heard from the Secretary of State Antony Blinken. We've heard from Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin.

And I want to read you part of what his statement said from earlier today. He said, we condemn these reckless and unprecedented attacks by Iran and its proxies. And we call on Iran to immediately halt any further attacks, including from its proxy forces, and to de-escalate tensions. We do not seek conflict with Iran, but we will not hesitate to act to protect our forces and support the defense of Israel. So, we see U.S. officials are not yet breathing a sigh of relief here. There is still, the potential for a massive regional conflagration if either side chooses to escalate here. And we see in that statement from Secretary Austin, as well as statements we've seen from the president and the secretary of state, kind of, walking this line between not supporting Israel in any sort of offensive move, but also making clear that they will defensively stand by Israel.

So, Alex, we expect to see a flurry of diplomatic activity to try to deter any, sort of, military response on either side. The secretary of state said he would be calling partners in the region and around the world in the coming hours and days to discuss this. President Biden will be convening his G7 partners to discuss the situation. And there is a meeting later today of the U.N. Security Council that was called by Israel to also discuss the situation. So, tensions still remain very high here, Alex.

MARQUARDT: Jennifer, we did see or hear about several hours of conversations in the situation room between President Biden and his top national security advisors. One of the reasons, we understand, is because they were monitoring what was going on in real-time.

You cover the State Department. You cover Secretary of State Antony Blinken. He was seated just to the right, I believe, of President Joe Biden. Can you give us a bit more of a sense of what the -- what kinds of things the Secretary of State will be doing in the coming hours and the coming days as, as you say, the U.S. is trying to walk this line of reiterating its ironclad support for Israel, but at the same time hoping that Israel does not go farther when it comes to Iran.

HANSLER: Yes, Alex, we expect Blinken to continue to engage with all the parties here to try to ensure that this does not explode into a really wide regional situation. We saw in the lead up to this strike, Blinken was on the phone with a number of counterparts from China, from Saudi Arabia, Egypt, Jordan, to Turkey to get them to press Iran not to do anything escalatory. Obviously, those messages fell on semi- deaf ears because we did see Iran launch this barrage of attacks against Israel.

So, in the coming hours and days we expect Blinken to, once again, be engaging with people to ensure that this does not further escalate. We expect him to be calling partners in the region as well as European counterparts. He'll be heading to the G7 later this week, so we will expect this to be at the top of the agenda there, too, Alex.

MARQUARDT: All right. Jennifer Hansler here in Washington, thank you very much for your reporting.

Now, I want to bring in a CNN Chief International Anchor Christiane Amanpour. Christiane, thank you so much, for joining us. I wonder to what extent do you think the U.S. is going to be successful at convincing Israel that they should now not retaliate against Iran. What leverage the U.S. has in light of the help that they gave Israel last night and, of course, the ongoing support at least in terms of weaponry in the war in Gaza? CHRISTIANE AMANPOUR, CNN CHIEF INTERNATIONAL ANCHOR: You know, this is the question, frankly, Alex, because the United States has been urging Israel, you know, throughout the war in Gaza since October 7th to abide by the, you know, rules of the international road. And that has proven something that Israel has not wanted to do in terms of how it's targeting Gaza.


So, if you flash now to this extra, you know, potential regional escalation, the very real question is, is there a division between what the U.S. wants, which is not to escalate the United States from the White House? They've said that President Biden will not, and has told Netanyahu he will not join any offensive action against Iran. Is there a division between him and Netanyahu on this?

We know that for many, many years, the Israeli government under Netanyahu, and frankly previous ones, certain previous ones, have wanted to drive the U.S. into their own conflict with Iran. And so far, that hasn't happened. The U.S. provided defensive help overnight, so did the U.K., so did France, to try to, you know, head off the worst possibilities of the Iran barrage. But now this is a real Rubicon that has been crossed. Iran, in the 45 years of the Islamic Revolution and its conflict with Israel and Israel's conflict with it, has never attacked inside Israel.

Now, let's face it, this one was heavily, heavily telegraphed. It was very, very clear that this was going to happen. The United States knew, Israel knew, everybody in the region knew it is a retaliation for, frankly, an unprecedented attack by Israel on a diplomatic facility of Iran. We still don't know the cow's a spell eye (ph) if there was one. Why did Israel make that attack inside Damascus?

Also, we know that for many, many years there has been a shadow war between Israel and Iran. Whether it's on cyber. Whether it's Israel taking out various target inside Iran, like the scientists. And you remember centrifuge malfunctions at Natanz, et cetera, on its nuclear program. So, there has been this shadow war going on.

Now, Iran says that it took its defensive measure, it called it. Its U.N. mission set out a statement last night saying that it was abiding by the U.N. Charter on the right to self-defense. So, now everybody is covering themselves in this right to self-defense. And if Israel continues to do that in terms of retaliate -- further retaliation, it's very unclear where this will lead. But nowhere good, that's for sure.

MARQUARDT: Christian, this was absolutely telegraphed when we were considering what scenarios Iran would undertake. I think this was probably one of the most dramatic. And I wonder, to what extent, you're surprised by what we saw in terms of the launch of these 300 drones and missiles, and what you make of the Iranian messaging ahead of the attack. Essentially telling the U.S., stay out of it. This is between us and Israel. And then saying very clearly in the middle of the night, at least our time, that now this attack is over. AMANPOUR: Indeed. I mean, look, yes, it was a huge number, hundreds of aerial -- you know, aerial mechanisms. You know, drones, cruise missiles, ballistic missiles. On the other hand, if one can say, it was very targeted. It was very limited in its -- in the direction, and everybody knew it was coming. You know, they say that quite a lot of them were intercepted even before entering Israeli airspace.

So, I think that this is not a showpiece because that would be to minimize the real, real tensions that are happening. But it was what Iran, certainly from its perspective, believed was an absolute necessity to take this defensive measure. This went right up to, obviously, Ayatollah Khamenei, the so-called supreme leader of Iran. And it was determined that it had to take this action.

Now, if you remember, a few weeks or a month ago, Iran through its proxies, attacked and killed -- attacked a base and killed several American service people. And for that, the United States responded very, very heavily and killed dozens of those proxies and or Iranians. Of course, that was outside Iran. And that has stopped that kind of engagement so far.

So, if Iran is saying now, you did this thing to us in Damascus in our diplomatic headquarters. We don't know why Israel did it other than it potentially could have been simply a target of opportunity because there were military people there as you saw.

And now the question is, is this going to be an endless cycle of retaliating for retaliations and on and on and on? And that is clearly what the United States and the neighboring countries are trying to avoid. It is also, and we mustn't forget, sort of moving the spotlight and the energy away from trying to stop the disastrous situation in Gaza and try to get the hostages home.


Because that is, you know, as far as we know, not proceeding in the way that certainly the United States wants and certainly, you know, the people in the region want.

MARQUARDT: No, that's right. That ceasefire deal that would see those hostages released appears to be stalled at least for now. Christiane Amanpour, thank you so much for your time and for your expertise today.

Still to come, Israel and its allies are looking at their options after a night of those Iranian air attacks with drones and missiles. We'll be bringing in a noted military analyst to look at those options. Stay with us.


MARQUARDT: Welcome back to our viewers here in the United States and all around the world. I'm Alex Marquardt in Washington, D.C.

A quick update on the latest developments out of Israel. Of course, the big question is what will happen next? But Israel may be dropping its first hint about what it may do in response to an Iran -- in response to those Iranian attacks overnight.



MARQUARDT: The IDF says that Iran fired more than 300 drones, ballistic and cruise missiles on Israel, but saying that 99 percent of those Iranian projectiles were shot down. Now, Israel's foreign minister is reiterating earlier comments that if Iran attacks inside Israel, Israel will then strike inside Iran. That is the big question this morning whether Israel will undertake that action against Iran. Iran's military chief of staff is saying that the United States and Israel have been put on notice not to launch any military response.

Meanwhile, Israel, Iraq, and Jordan have now reopened their airspaces. Perhaps an indication that they think that at least this chapter is now over. The United Nations Security Council is set to meet in the coming hours after Israel called for a condemnation of Iran's overnight attack.


But this is Inside Iran.



MARQUARDT: Celebrations, as you can see there, breaking out on the streets of Tehran after word of the Iranian attack against Israel got out.

Joining me now is retired Major General Mick Ryan of the Australian Army. he is the former commander of the Australia Defence College and the author of "War Transformed: The Future of Twenty-First-Century Great Power Competition and Conflict." Joining us now from Brisbane in Australia.

Mick, thanks so much for joining us. I want to get your sense of what you make of the Iranian attack. There -- it could have been bigger, if you will. It was very significant. There was some proxy involvement, but not all that intense. So, what do you think the message that Iran was trying to send was with these 300 drones, cruise and ballistic missiles?

MAJOR GENERAL MICK RYAN, AUSTRALIAN ARMY (RET.), AUTHOR, "WAR TRANSFORMED", AND FORMER COMMANDER, AUSTRALIA DEFENCE COLLEGE: -- element of this retaliation. And Iran seems to have calibrated the attack so it's not too small to be irrelevant, but not so large that it would have overwhelmed Israel's defenses and caused massive casualties. It's worth noting that the tactics Iran used are very, very similar to those used by Russia in Ukraine in combining multiple different types of drones and missiles in attacks against Ukrainian infrastructure.

MARQUARDT: General, do you think there will be an Israeli response? Obviously, there's a lot of concern here in Washington, and in fact, direct messaging to Israel, to Prime Minister Netanyahu, that the U.S. would not support a retaliation against Iran.

RYAN: You know what, I'm not sure that U.S. messaging to Israel over Gaza has worked well, and it may not in this case. The Israeli cabinet is probably considering a variety of options that would extend from not responding all the way through to a massive hammer blow. You know, the Israelis will be wanting, as they did after 7 October to do what they call reestablished deterrence. So, that will be a guiding principle in their response.

MARQUARDT: And that is something they could do asymmetrically as well, right? I mean, they have so many different options, whether it's special forces or cyber, or as we saw in Damascus last week, they could attack Iranian interests elsewhere. Aside from a direct strike against Tehran and military targets inside Iran, what else could Israel do if not a full-blown, very high-profile attack against Iran?

RYAN: Well, they could surprise everyone and do nothing. They could say, hey, we easily fended off that blow and seek to humiliate Iran that way. I don't sense that that will be the option they choose. And given they have normalized strikes against Iranian proxies in the region, it's more likely than not that some kind of activity in Iran, be it an airstrike or special forces mission or cyber strikes will be included in what they're most likely to do.

MARQUARDT: General, it's one thing, I think, for the Israeli public to get attacked by Hamas with, you know, rocket fired. But, you know, those rockets pale in comparison to what they were facing last night. And I wonder to what extent you think this extraordinary attack by Iran, historic, will play into the war in Gaza. What will be the impact there?

RYAN: Well, I think as Christiane Amanpour said in the previous report, this really has crossed a Rubicon for Iran. It has not, in its modern history, attacked Israel directly. Always preferring to use proxy. So, this has changed the game somewhat in the Middle East. It's a change in Iranian strategy, and the Israelis are probably going to have to shift their strategy in how they deal with Iran.

MARQUARDT: All right. Retired Major General Mick Ryan in Brisbane, Australia, thank you very much for your time today. I really appreciate it.

RYAN: Thank you.

MARQUARDT: And still ahead, reaction to Iran's attack on Israel continues to come in from around the world. We will have those responses. Stay with us.



MARQUARDT: Pouring in around the world to Iran's overnight attack against Israel, the president of France, Emmanuel Macron, is condemning what he is calling the unprecedented attack launched by Iran towards Israel. Warning, in a statement that the attack, "Threatens to destabilize the region."

And then China, meanwhile, is expressing what it calls deep concern and is calling for calm and restraint. A statement released by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs says, "China calls on the International Community, especially countries with influence, to play a constructive role for the peace and stability of the region."

And then there's a similar statement from the government of Qatar in Doha. Expressing what it calls profound concern. The Ministry of Foreign Affairs saying that Qatar has, "Called on all parties to cease escalation, calm tensions, and exercise maximum restraint.

And then in Germany, the foreign minister of that country writing on X, we condemn the ongoing attack in the strongest possible terms. Adding that the attack risked plunging the region, "Into chaos".

For more joining us is International Correspondent Scott McClean in Istanbul. So, Scott, what else are we hearing from around the world?

SCOTT MCLEAN, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Alex, good morning. Look, it is important to remember that this attack wasn't random. It didn't come out of the blue. This is something that the Iranians had been telegraphing for some time in response to this April 1st attack on its diplomatic compound in Damascus. Something that it pointed to the U.N. Security Council and said that it should have been condemned there.

But it wasn't because the U.S., the U.K. and France had pointed out that there were still unanswered questions about the true use of that, a building that was hit on that compound in Damascus, which is similar to the Israeli line, that this was actually a military facility.

When it comes to this latest attack, though, there has been very swift condemnation from those countries and from the West more broadly. The British Prime Minister, Rishi Sunak, wrote this. He said, that Iran has once again demonstrated that it is intent on sowing chaos in its own backyard.

The U.N. Secretary General, Antonio Guterres, who had actually condemned that strike on the Damascus diplomatic facility, said this, I am deeply alarmed about the very real danger of a devastating region-wide escalation. I urge all parties to exercise cautionary maximum restraint.

Some of those parties involved in Israel's defense are the ones that I mentioned, the U.S., the U.K. and France are all part of the Security Council, and that is who the Saudi foreign ministry is directing its statement towards.


Saying, this region is crucial for global peace and security. And the Security Council must act to prevent the crisis from escalating, which would have grave consequences if it expands. And of course, the countries in this region would be the one -- would be the ones to feel those consequences. Countries, many of whom are already struggling with very poor economic circumstances, like here in Turkey, like the Egyptians, who are also trying to broker peace between the Israelis and Hamas.

And the foreign ministry of Egypt wrote this, this escalation is nothing but a direct result of what Egypt has repeatedly warned about regarding the dangers of expanding the conflict in the region as a result of the Israeli war on the Gaza Strip and the provocative military actions being exercised in the region.

That last line could easily be a reference to both the Israelis and some of their strikes in the region on Iran and -- on Iranian proxy forces, I should say, in the region. It could also be a reference to the reactions that we're seeing from Iran through its proxies, whether it's the Houthis or Hezbollah or some of its other groups aligned with Tehran in Iraq or with Syria.

And in the past week, Alex, we've seen the U.S. and the West really trying to send a message either directly or through diplomatic back channels to the Iranians not to strike and to try to turn down the temperature on this conflict. And now we're seeing the opposite. The Iranians trying to very clearly send a message to the West and to Israel that, look, if there's no more strikes, this is over.

But of course, it's not the West that's going to be deciding whether this is over, it is going to be Israel. And Israel, as we've learned since October the 7th, since this war began, Israel has been very reluctant to take advice even from its allies.

MARQUARDT: Yes, one through line in all of those statements from around the world. The hope that, essentially, this is it and that this does not escalate from here. Scott McClean in Istanbul, thanks very much.

And stay with us. We will have much more of our breaking news coverage of Iran's direct attack on Israel in just a moment right here on CNN.





MARQUARDT: After a wave of Iranian attacks on Israel, Iran's army chief of staff is warning the United States against any future attacks. Saying that American bases will not have any security and will be, "Dealt with." Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has spoken on the phone in the past few hours with U.S. President Joe Biden.

Biden urged Prime Minister Netanyahu to avoid escalation and said that the United States, and this is very notable, will not participate in any offensive operation against Iran. That is the main concern right now, to what extent Israel will feel the need to respond to this.

On the streets of Tehran, you can see right there, people are celebrating. Waving Palestinian and Hezbollah flags. The commander of Iran's Revolutionary Guard Corps saying that if Israel attacks Iranian interests or assets, that Iran, again, will respond directly.

Now, so much of the focus has been, of course, understandably, on this attack by Iran against Israel overnight. And as these regional tensions explode, we can't forget the very dire humanitarian situation in Gaza that has unfolded over the past few months. There's also swift reaction from Capitol Hill on the attacks in Israel. Congress saying that they could consider legislation supporting Israel sometime this week.

Meanwhile, roughly 1,000 U.S. troops are en route to help set up a floating pier that will be used to deliver humanitarian aid from the sea into Gaza. It is expected to be up and running by the end of April or early May.

I'm Alex Marquardt here in Washington, D.C. We will have more of our breaking news coverage in just a moment. I hope you stay with us.