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CNN This Morning

Iran: Attacks Targeted Israeli Base Used To Conduct Strike On Iranian Consulate In Damascus; Biden To Meet With G7 Leaders Today; Israel Says Hamas Has Rejected The Outline Of A Ceasefire And Hostage Release Deal; Hezbollah, IDF Exchange Fire Along Lebanon-Israel Border; Biden Tells Israel U.S. Won't Participate In Any Offensive Operations Against Iran; Military Operation Against Israel "Has Concluded"; Hamas Rejects Outline Of A Ceasefire And Hostage Release Deal; Iran's New Warning; Drones And Ballistic Missiles Intercepted By U.S.; World Leaders Call For Restraint; International Reactions To Israel Attack. Aired 7-8a ET

Aired April 14, 2024 - 07:00   ET




CHRISTIANE AMANPOUR, CNN HOST: Hello everyone, and welcome to our viewers in the United States and around the world. This is CNN's continuing breaking news coverage of Iran's strike on Israel. I'm Christiane Amanpour in London, alongside my colleague Alex Marquardt in Washington.

And we're learning more about Iran's unprecedented attack on Israel. This morning, Iran says it targeted the base Israel used to strike the Iranian consulate in Damascus.

The IDF says more than 300 missiles and drones were fired in yesterday's attack. The majority were fired from Iran itself, but some were launched from Iraq and Yemen. Only a few were able to pierce the defenses, hitting an air base in Southern Israel causing minor damage. And there are no reports of major injuries or deaths suffered directly from the strikes.

Israel says the U.S., Britain, and France also acted during the strikes. U.S. forces intercepted more than 70 one-way attack drones and at least three ballistic missiles, according to two U.S. officials familiar with the matter. And this morning, Tehran says the matter has, quote, "concluded" and warned the United States and Israel against any future attacks.

But Israel's forces remain on high alert. Meanwhile, President Biden spoke with Benjamin Netanyahu, reassuring the Israeli Prime Minister of Washington's commitment, which remains ironclad. But our MJ Lee has learned the President also told Netanyahu, the United States would not take part in any offensive operation against Iran.

ALEX MARQUARDT, CNN HOST: And is covering this story from around the globe, we have CNN's Kevin Liptak as well as Kylie Atwood standing by in Washington. I want to begin with our Jeremy Diamond who has made his way to northern Israel.

Jeremy, that front seeing more action last night with cross border rocket fire from Hezbollah. But in terms of the Iranian attack against Israel, there was a limited amount of damage. No one was killed despite this extraordinary attack from Iran. Going forward, on this Sunday, what do we know about how Israel is considering a potential counterattack against Iran?

JEREMY DIAMOND, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, Alex, there's no question that Israel feels like it must respond to what is an unprecedented and large scale attack by Iran. The first Iranian attack directly against Israeli soil, more than 300 projectiles, drones and missiles that were fired in the direction of Israeli territory.

Even though as you mentioned very few actually made it through Israel's air defenses. Only a few ballistic missiles, according to the Israeli military, struck the Nevatim Airbase in southern Israel causing what they have described as light and minimal damage to that facility.

Now, in terms of what Israel will do going forward, I just got off the phone with an Israeli official who said that Israel's war cabinet is set to convene in an hour perhaps time, and this will be a major meeting to (technical difficulty) options in (technical difficulty). And what I was told (technical difficulty) this source, quote, "break all of the dishes or (technical difficulty) current paradigm that exists in Iran (technical difficulty).

MARQUARDT: All right, Jeremy, I apologize to cut you off. We are having some trouble with your audio. We're going to try to get you back. There's a lot more to discuss on this very busy day. Christiane?

AMANPOUR: Yes, indeed. And today, President Biden plans to meet with G7 leaders, obviously, digitally or rather virtually, to coordinate a diplomatic response. He's promising a quote, "ironclad" commitment to Israel's security against Iranian threats.

CNN's Kevin Liptak joins us now from Washington. So, what do you expect from that meeting, because it's very clear, it's very clear now that we hear what the actual base target was? The Iranians say it was the base from which the attack on its consulate was launched. So it seems to be entirely targeted. It wasn't an attack directed at the whole of Israel. What does the United States expect Israel to do now?

KEVIN LIPTAK, CNN SENIOR WHITE HOUSE REPORTER: Well, I think the focus right now at the White House and in the Biden administration is trying to contain the risk of a wider conflict. And you see that coming out in President Biden's conversation with Prime Minister Netanyahu.


Yesterday, sources telling us that the president told him that the U.S. wouldn't be involved in an offensive operation against Iran. And when you see how the White House is describing this meeting of G7 leaders later today, they say it's to create a united Diplomatic response. The emphasis there is on the word diplomatic. President Biden clearly looking for non-military ways to respond to this to prevent this from escalating into a wider regional crisis. And I just want to read you a little bit of the president's statement from last night. He 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 told him that Israel demonstrated a remarkable capacity to defend against and defeat even unprecedented attacks, sending a clear message to its foes that they cannot effectively threaten the security of Israel."

And I think reading between the lines of that statement and also in talking to U.S. officials, the president is saying here to Netanyahu, you were successful. These strikes did not land on anything of significance. Most of them were intercepted, essentially saying, take the win and don't respond in a fashion that could cause this situation to blow up.

Now, how Netanyahu responds to that remains to be seen. This is, of course, coming at a moment of deep tension between President Biden and Netanyahu over the war in Gaza and certainly the limits of American influence have been exposed in that conflict when it comes to humanitarian aid. So certainly the focus for President Biden today is mounting this diplomatic response to prevent a further escalation. Christiane?

AMANPOUR: And Kevin, as you know, the leverage is military and President Biden apparently said that that would be conditional if the humanitarian situation in Gaza wasn't resolved. So we'll see what that means if Netanyahu defies any advice to go into Iran.

But here's the thing. Former Israeli Prime Minister and former Mossad director on CNN this morning have both warned Netanyahu to, quote, look at the big picture as you say, take the win and just don't do anything for revenge.

And remember, according to Ehud Barak, that they're still stuck in Gaza. They still don't have their hostages back. There are still people, you know, right now currently dying of famine in Gaza. And I wonder whether the U.S. -- you know, what is the U.S. sort of discussion with Netanyahu to try to stop him from any bigger war with Iran while this huge thing is going on in Gaza that affects Israel's security and its standing in the world?

LIPTAK: Yes, and I think that is sort of the argument that you're going to hear from American officials is that Israel's own security would not benefit from a wider regional war. But at the same time, American officials are certainly mindful of the very intense political pressure that Netanyahu is facing in his own country.

And certainly there are some U.S. officials who do fear that because of that pressure, Netanyahu could be trying to pull the U.S. closer to this conflict in more direct conflict with Iran. And certainly the hope of the Biden administration, the overriding hope and really the only hope is for this hostage deal to come through in Gaza that would result in a temporary ceasefire. Just today, we have heard from Hamas that they have rejected the latest proposal, essentially that their demands remain for a full ceasefire. And so that work remains to be seen. That is President Biden's real overriding approach to this is to try and secure that hostage deal that would create space for more diplomacy in the region that would allow more humanitarian aid into Gaza.

But as of now, that remains out of reach. And so it does remain unclear what exactly the next steps are. Certainly, American officials say they will continue to pursue that hostage deal until it's reached, until those hostages are out of Gaza. But President Biden's certainly very focused on preventing the wider conflict this morning.

AMANPOUR: Kevin Liptak, thank you.

MARQUARDT: And I want to get straight back to Jeremy Diamond. We've reestablished that connection. Jeremy, I want to pick up where Kevin just left off in terms of that ceasefire deal, which is the Biden administration considers as the key to unlocking so much more, including potentially an end to the war.

You've just gotten a statement from the prime minister's office about these ongoing negotiations. What did it say?

DIAMOND: Yes, that's right. The Israeli prime minister's office in a statement saying that Hamas has rejected the latest ceasefire agreement proposal. This comes despite the fact that over the course of the last several weeks, the Israeli position really has moved in several quite significant ways in terms of the number of people who could return to northern Gaza.


For example, the number of Palestinian prisoners who would be released in exchange for some 40 Israeli hostages being held in captivity in Gaza, and yet not moved enough to match Hamas's demands. Hamas rejecting this proposal according to a diplomatic source because of the fact that Israel is still not allowing -- not willing to allow unfettered access to the Gaza Strip, totally unrestricted and also regarding the withdrawal of Israeli troops in central Gaza along that Netzarim Corridor, which separates northern from southern Gaza.

In this statement, the Prime Minister's office says that Israel will, quote, "continue to pursue the realization of the goals of the war against Hamas with strength." And so reading the tea leaves here, Alex, I think, that very much suggests that Israel could indeed move forward with its planned military operation in Rafah, a major ground offensive, which the United States, of course, has sought to deter, to convince Israel not to pursue, arguing instead for a more limited operations in Rafah to go after Hamas's senior leadership.

And so amid all of these regional tensions, amid the Israeli war cabinet set to meet today to discuss a potential response to Iran's large scale and unprecedented attack on Israel last night, the Israeli war cabinet and the Israeli military is also very much preparing for the next steps of its war in Gaza against Hamas. MARQUARDT: Yes, the U.S. hoping that Israel not undertake another military offensive, the one in Rafah that you just mentioned.

Jeremy Diamond in northern Israel. Thank you very much.

And while President Joe Biden says that the United States will not participate in any Israeli offensive against Iran, American destroyers did help take down some of those 300 Iranian projectiles that were fired at Israel last night. Iran's army says that if the U.S. does participate, then U.S. bases will be, quote, "dealt with."

I want to bring in CNN's Kylie Atwood, who is at the State Department. Kylie, overnight, with these 300 drones and missiles that were fired at Israel, how significant was the U.S. support for Israel in terms of interceptions, and how do you think that plays into how Israel considers its next moves?

KYLIE ATWOOD, CNN NATIONAL SECURITY CORRESPONDENT: Well, listen, we know that U.S. and Israeli officials were really in joint lockstep communication throughout the entire course of this barrage of attack that happens over five hours. The numbers prove it, Alex. There were, according to U.S. officials, more than 70 drones that were intercepted by the U.S. and at least three ballistic missiles that were intercepted by the U.S.

Of course, that contributes to the U.S. assessment that this was largely an unsuccessful attack for the Iranians. So, of course, when Israel is taking a step back here, figuring out its way forward, it cannot be questioned that the U.S. was side by side with Israel when they were going through this attack.

We should also note that President Biden said that there were not any U.S. facilities or U.S. personnel that were attacked. And there was really a really strong military presence of the U.S. units in the region over the course of the last few months that had been built up that allowed the U.S. to be able to defend Israel in this way.

We know that the U.S. Dwight D. Eisenhower Carrier Strike Group was there. That includes multiple missile destroyer systems on board, and so the U.S. was militarily set up for this. And I also think it's important to note that the U.S. was diplomatically set up for this.

The Secretary of State had spent the last week making phone calls to his counterparts in the region, encouraging all of them that to try and deescalate. Of course, that didn't happen. But there will be follow up to that end today, not alone with that G7 meeting that the president is having, but with the Secretary of State's phone calls as well.

MARQUARDT: All right. Kylie Atwood at the State Department. Thanks so much for that reporting.

Hezbollah in Lebanon is taking the opportunity to launch a rocket strike on the Israeli military, and Israel has since retaliated. We'll take you live to Beirut for those details. Stay with us.



AMANPOUR: Welcome back. Fighting is intensifying between Israel and Hezbollah this morning, with a significant number of rockets being fired from southern Lebanon into the Golan Heights area of the Israeli occupied part of Syria. The Iran-backed militant group in Lebanon issued a statement after the attack saying that it was in support of Palestinians in Gaza. This comes after the hours long Israeli airstrikes in Lebanon bombarded a military complex used by Hezbollah forces.

And CNN's Ben Wedeman joins us. Ben, tell us what is going on and whether this is somehow related to the Iran-Israel attack.

BEN WEDEMAN, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, Christiane, as you mentioned in its statement regarding that Katyusha strike on the Israeli occupied Syrian Golan Heights, it did say that this was in support of the Palestinians and in response to strikes along the Lebanese side of the border with Israel.


However, it was significant that the target, according to Hezbollah, was Israeli anti-missile and anti-air defense positions. Now, we don't know how much damage was done to them, but it was just before, about an hour and a half before the drones that were fired by Iran started to approach Israel.

Now, what we've seen today is that there's been sort of a resumption of what might be called the normal back and forth between Hezbollah and Israel. However, one of those sites was on the town of Nebi Sheet, which is in the central Beqaa Valley well away from the border with Israel.

There we saw an entire building was completely demolished. The spokesman -- the Arab media spokesman for the Israeli military describing the target as an important weapons manufacturing site. Now, we can't confirm that at the moment.

But every time Israel strikes well beyond the border area, it does raise the concern among many Lebanese that what has been largely limited to the border in terms of those back and fire exchanges between Israel could escalate to something much more serious.


AMANPOUR: Indeed, and that's what everybody's watching. Ben Wedeman, thank you.

Now, the U.S. and other Israeli allies in the region did help block the attack by Iran. This morning, there are calls for restraint. Where's all this heading? We'll discuss after a quick break.



MARQUARDT: Israel's military worked with the United States, the United Kingdom and France to defend against Iran's overnight retaliatory strikes. And an Iranian military leader is now responding, saying, quote, "a new equation was created" after its attack on Israel and that Iran will now respond directly whenever Israel attacks its interests, it's assets or it's people.

CNN's Fred Pleitgen joins us now. So, Fred, you were in Iran recently. What's your sense of what Iran's leadership is thinking and possibly planning right now?

FREDERIK PLEITGEN, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, I think there's three messages that the Iranians, Alex, are trying to send right now, not just, of course, to Israel, but also to the U.S. and its allies in the region as well.

And I think, first and foremost, and you're seeing this from a lot of Iranian officials who are coming out this morning, like, for instance, the foreign minister, but then also the chief of the general staff as well, saying that the Iranians feel that this was a limited response after their embassy compound in Damascus was hit.

And they're making clear that this could be the end of what has happened, that nothing further needs to happen. They're essentially trying to put the ball back into Israel's court. One of the interesting things that I heard also from the head of the revolutionary guard is that the Iranians seem to feel that these strikes were actually more successful than they had initially thought.

He was saying that they had initially planned for a larger strike against Israel, but then opted to attack, as they put it, only the installations, the military installations that were used by the Israelis, the Iranians say, to attack the embassy compound in Damascus. Now, whether or not that's true is obviously something that we can't completely verify, but that's certainly the messaging that we're hearing from the Iranians.

And the other thing you mentioned, I think is also extremely important, the Iranians are saying that there has been a strategic shift on their part and that they will now attack Israel if their assets and their people, as they put it, in the region are attacked. I want to listen in to what the head of the IRGC had to say.


HOSSEIN SALAMI, COMMANDER, ISLAMIC REVOLUTIONARY GUARD CORPS (through translator): We decided to create a new equation, and that is if the Zionist regime attacks our interests, assets, personalities, and citizens at any point, we will attack them from the Islamic Republic of Iran. The Honest Promise Operation is a prominent and very clear example of this new equation.


PLEITGEN: So that certainly seems to indicate a more hardline course, if you will, than we've seen in the past from the Iranians, clearly saying that they will attack Israel from Iranian territory. And in the third and final message, this is obviously very important for the U.S. The Iranians once again saying, as they have over the past couple of days, that they're urging the U.S. to stay out of everything.

In fact, the head of the general staff saying that if the U.S. gets involved in any sort of attack by Israel on Iranian territory, that the Iranians will then put U.S. bases in the region under pressure, Alex.

MARQUARDT: And according to an Israeli official speaking with CNN, they will respond to this Iranian attack, but they're still trying to determine what the scope of that response is going to look like.

Fred Pleitgen, thank you very much. Christiane?

AMANPOUR: Alex, thanks.

And now let's discuss this further. Joining me now is Ali Vaez, the International Crisis Group Iran Project Director. Welcome to the program, Ali. I wonder whether we can pick up from what Fred just said, quoting the head of the Iranian Revolutionary Guard Corps, that this is a new equation and that they have now shown that they can do it and that they will continue if and when they are attacked and their assets are attacked.

ALI VAEZ, DIRECTOR, IRAN PROJECT INTERNATIONAL CRISIS GROUP: It's good to be with you, Christiane. Clearly, a psychological barrier has been crossed. As you know, the shadow war between Iran and Israel has been playing out over the past few decades, and primarily indirectly, Iran has developed a network of partners and proxies precisely because itself didn't want to get into a direct confrontation with much stronger military power, like Israel, which is, of course, backed by the United States.


But it appears that, as of yesterday, we are in a new world, in uncharted territories, and a region that was already extremely dangerous, I think it's just become much more perilous.

AMANPOUR: Ali, it was a Rubicon that was crossed. I've been saying in 45 years of the Islamic Republic, there has never been a direct attack on Israel, even though Israel has been attacking Iran's interests, covert against scientists and military installations and all the other things that we know in the shadow war as well.

Do you think, from everything you know about the way Iran operates, that it actually had to do what it did overnight after what Israel did in Syria? What was -- would have been the thinking and the decision on the scope of the retaliation?

VAEZ: Christiane, in all these years that I've been covering Iran, I have rarely seen this much bottom-up pressure on the regime from its own core constituents to do something, to respond to Israeli aggression against them from their perspective. And this is a regime that is now reliant on its very narrow, core, constituents of 10, 15 percent of the Iranian population, so it cannot afford to alienate them. And they clearly have come to the conclusion that their policy of strategic patience, they have been attacked by Israel in the past few months much more aggressively in Syria. Around 11 IRGC personnel in Syria had been killed prior to this attack on Iranian consulate in Damascus, which of course crossed the new line.

And so, there was a lot of pressure on the regime internally and I think Iran also wanted to save face in front of its own and allies in the region who had been much more brazen in targeting Israeli interests in the past few weeks and months like the Houthis in Yemen, compared to Iran itself.

Now, they calibrated this attack in a way and with the messaging, with the choice of weapons that they used to try to minimize casualties. So, it was spectacular and yet it was contained in way not to provoke an all-out war.

AMANPOUR: And you know, the next sort of question is, you've just said that regime is, you know, very narrowly supported with a very narrow, you know, highly conservative faction. The same could be said in Israel, very narrowly-supported government coalition with the very highly-conservative orthodox faction backing up Netanyahu, who already started to say we need to do this, we need to do that, we need to respond, we need to double down in Gaza, et cetera.

What to you is the increased level of miscalculation and just cycle and cycle that could be provoked by this?

VAEZ: Yes, absolutely. Obviously, I think Israel had this strategy, which is not, by the way, limited to the post-October 7th war that we're living in. But Israel, as of around earlier this decade, came to the conclusion that it had to target the head of the octopus, Iran being the octopus and its tentacles being its proxies and partners in the region, as the best way of pushing back against Iran's regional policies. And it seems like Iran now has turned that policy on its head, and it too wants to go after Israel directly.

Christiane, in the past six, seven years have been hundreds of Israeli attacks in Syria against Iranian assets. Now, if Iran is to respond to every single attack against its assets in Syria going forward, we will be in a state of endless war, which of course would benefit unpopular regimes at home, but will be disastrous for the entire region.

AMANPOUR: And let's just not forget that the underpinning of this is what's happening in Gaza right now. What can you say? Do you have any information about what is going on and whether there really is any pathway to getting some kind of end to this?

We hear that the latest is Hamas has rejected the latest proposal. Earlier, we were hearing Israel is slow walking it. I mean, it just -- and the United States obviously heavily involved. But is there any hope that might be resolved anytime soon?

VAEZ: The odds don't look very promising at this point, Christiane, because Hamas is obviously running out of leverage, which unfortunately are innocent Israelis that are hostage in Gaza.


But if it gives away that leverage it wants to get a permanent ceasefire that, of course, is unacceptable to Israel because it wants to go into Rafah and make sure that it has destroyed all of the infrastructure that Hamas is using.

So, the Venn diagram between what Israel wants and Hamas funds wants, at this point, seem not to overlap. The problem is as long as this conflict goes on, it will, by definition, spillover into all the other tensions in the region. And in this confrontation, we had between Iran and Israel yesterday, thankfully U.S. forces were not targeted.

But imagine if we end up in a situation that Israel enters into Rafah and we see more humanitarian casualties and a catastrophe there, then it is likely that Iranian-backed allies in Iraq and Syria would also start targeting U.S. forces. And depending on how Israel reacts to the attack yesterday, we might really end up in a situation that we will see a regional conflagration, which, again, would be really catastrophic for everyone.

AMANPOUR: You said it, is a complete catastrophe all round. Ali Vaez, thank you very much indeed.

Hours after that unprecedented direct attack on Israel, which has, as you now heard from Iran, changed the equation, Tehran is out with a new warning this morning, and we'll talk more about where this conflict goes from here, that's next.



MARQUARDT: The chief of staff for Iran's military has warned the United States and Israel against any future attacks, sending a message through the Swiss embassy, warning that if Washington and cooperates with Israel in their next possible actions that U.S. bases will "not have any security and will have to be dealt with."

Let's discuss all this and more with CNN military analysts and retired U S Army major general James "Spider" Marks and Michael Allen, who served at the National Security Council and is a managing director for Beacon Global Strategies. Thank you both for joining me this morning.

Michael, I want to start with you. In terms of an Israeli response, a potential response now, an Israel official tells my colleague Jeremy Diamond that Israel has yet to figure out whether to try to "break all the dishes" or do something more measured, but saying they will do some things. So, how do you think this is going to play out?

MICHAEL ALLEN, MANAGING DIRECTOR, BEACON GLOBAL STRATEGIES: Well, I do think Israel's in a bit of a tough spot. They're, of course, excited that they had little to no loss of life last night. But I think politicians are worried about Israelis -- the Israeli deterrence. I think they want to be able to send in a message that, hey, Iran, if you're able to hit us like this, we're still going to get you back.

So, I have a feeling that they're discussing a range of possibilities in the gray zone area where they may, as they have in past, gone after through intelligence sources, a variety of people inside of Iran or elsewhere in Lebanon.

But I don't think that going be to bomb it per se. I think they would send their own proxy forces like they have in the past to kill Iranian scientists. I would look for something like that.

MARQUARDT: Or could continue to target senior Iranian generals elsewhere as they did even before this latest strike in Damascus.

General Marks, to you, this threat by Iran to go after U.S. bases if the U.S. joins Israel in targeting Iran, what do you now make of the U.S. pressure on Israel, to essentially take last night as a win?

MAJ. GEN. JAMES "SPIDER" MARKS (RET.), CNN MILITARY ANALYST: Well, they should take last night as the win. Let's look, as indicated, what the battle damage assessment looks like, and it looks like it's minimal. So, the air defense capabilities, the partnership with the United States, Israel withstood this attack from Iran extremely well.

I think what we need to need to realize at this point is if someone was asking me, I would go back and I'd say, look let's stop talking about next steps. The Israelis need to stop talking what they think they might do or what the level of certainty is in terms of the fact that they will take a next step.

The United States needs to do the same other than what they have been saying, which is we're with Israel. This is a blatant attack on Israel's sovereignty by Tehran. And we are with the Israelis going forward.

And what the United States will do, they don't need to declare this, is they will be there to assist in defensive measures and mitigation as necessary. I doubt the United States will, unless directly attacked by Iran, as demonstrated last night, if Iran was to go after U.S. presence in the region, I think the United States along with Israel could very quickly take offensive operations. But that's the next step that we haven't seen yet.

So, we need to take -- we need to listen to what Iran is saying, and for the most part, we kind of need to put that into the B.S. category. I don't know that they speak very clearly in terms of the -- you know, the kind of connection between the narrative and the potential actions. So, Israel and United States just need to stay very strongly together.

MARQUARDT: Another next step where it appears the U.S. and Israel are not together is the possibility of Israel going into Rafah in a large way in Gaza.


Michael, coming back to this conflict in Gaza, how do you think the Iranian retaliation last night impacts that war and these questions over a ceasefire and Israel's operation into Rafah?

ALLEN: I have a feeling there's a big debate within the war cabinet and in the Israeli population about what to do next. I think that since Israel has dodged a bullet here, some are urging now, let's get back to first principles here and finish off the work we have to do in Gaza. I think others are concerned whether or not they ought to take additional direct action against Iran.

I have a feeling though with the United States weighing in against additional direct action on Iran that Netanyahu will get back to the business of trying to deal with Rafah. I think that's the most important thing for Israel to do in the short to medium-term is wrap this operation up as soon as possible and then try to get to a post- conflict situation.

MARQUARDT: And General Marks, I only have a couple moments left, but there was significant U.S. and other allied support last night, from the United Kingdom, from France. What would we have been looking at today in Israel had Israel not had that backup from its friends?

MARKS: Oh, wow, that's speculation. The amount of capabilities that Iran demonstrated was quite significant. The layering of the air defense capability, which means that the Israeli air defense, the -- you know, their aero capability and their Iron Dome stitched together with the United States capabilities was quite significant.

You'd see a number of casualties on the ground. You would see infrastructure, civilian, commercial infrastructure that would have been attacked, and we'd be at a cataclysmic stage right now. I think not only as Michael indicated, Israel may have dodged a bullet, although they were prepared for that bullet, Iran also dodged a bullet because of the capacity of Israel.

If we saw this devastation on the ground now, we could be at a very apocalyptic type of stage right now, and thankfully we're not.

MARQUARDT: Yes. I shudder to think about it. Retired Major General Spider Marks and Michael Allen, thank you so much for your time and your thoughts this morning. Appreciate it.

MARKS: You're welcome.

MARQUARDT: Celebrations in Tehran to show support for Iran's retaliatory strikes on Israel have been seen, while others in the region are urging caution. Next, we will be live with the latest reaction from all around the world. Stay with us.



MARQUARDT: We are getting reaction from House Republican leadership after Iran's retaliatory strikes overnight on Israel. And there are new bipartisan calls for a foreign aid package that's been stalled for weeks in the House of Representatives. Majority Leader Steve Scalise says that the House is now shifting its schedule this week to consider funding for Israel. He didn't give any specifics on what that entails.

Meanwhile, Speaker Mike Johnson blames the Biden administration for the funding delay, despite the fact that his own refusal has prevented a $95 billion foreign aid package from being brought to the House floor. Christiane.

AMANPOUR: Now, some Israelis are uncertain about the fallout from last night's attacks, but some are urging Israel's leaders to respond.


JEREMY SMITH, ISRAELI RESIDENT: I think we've been given license to respond now. I mean it was a major attack from Iran with I don't know how many hundred drones and missiles and major missiles. So, they really -- they've given us license to respond. And I imagine Israel will respond and maybe over quickly and get back to normal life.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Well, yes, we're very upset. We didn't want the war with Hamas. They attacked us. We don't want the war with Iran. They attacked us. We don't want a war with Iran. They -- somehow they can't accept Jewish people living here. This is our homeland. It's written in the bible.


AMANPOUR: Let's go now to CNN's Scott McLean with the international reaction. Scott, what is the leadership around where you are, around the world saying?

SCOTT MCLEAN, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Hey, Christiane. Yes, first, it's worth pointing out that the Iranians made clear in the last few days that this didn't have to end like this. They didn't perhaps have to retaliate at all if there had have been a stronger condemnation of the strike on their diplomatic facility in Damascus by the U.N. Security Council. Those efforts though were scuppered by the Americans, the French, and the British.

They did not though waste any time in condemning this attack by Iran. By and large, from the West, the message has been one of condemnation and one of support for Israel. You are seeing elsewhere messages of restraint and urging countries in the region to bring down the temperature.

The Russians and the Ukrainians happen to agree on that point. The Russian foreign ministry putting out this statement saying, we hope that regional states will solve existing problems through political and diplomatic means. We believe it is important that constructive international players contribute to this.

Middle Eastern countries have been quite measured in their messaging. And of course, they have the most to lose if this escalates even further. And so, from the Jordanians, you have them urging restraint. The Emiratis are warning of new levels of instability, and you have this from the Saudis, "The U.N. Security Council must act to prevent the crisis from escalating, which would have grave consequences if it expands."


And you have the Egyptians saying that this is perhaps predictable, saying, "The 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."

Of course, you could argue that there have been provocative actions from both the Israeli side and the Iranian side through their proxies in this part of the world.

The last few days, of course, Christiane, we know that the Americans and their allies have been urging Iran to take down the temperature. Now, the warning seems to be coming from the Iranians to do exactly the same.

AMANPOUR: Scott, thank you. And there will be a U.N. Security Council meeting. Interesting to see which way Russia will go, a big backer of Iran.

Thanks for joining us. I'm Christiane Amanpour in London.

MARQUARDT: And great to be with you, Christiane. I'm Alex Marquardt in Washington. CNN's coverage continues next with a special edition of "State of the Union" after a quick break. Don't go anywhere.