July 19, 2024

World leaders, who had been urging Israel and Iran to de-escalate tensions, once again implored both countries to avoid any taking any further action that could set off a wider war in the Middle East while Israel is fighting Hamas in Gaza and Hezbollah in Lebanon, both allies of Iran.

“Significant escalation is not in anyone’s interests,” Prime Minister Rishi Sunak of Britain, whose military participated in defending Israel against Iran’s missile-and-drone attack last weekend, told reporters on Friday. “What we want to see is calm heads prevail across the region.”

Early Saturday, there was an air attack on a base used by an Iranian-backed armed group, Harakat al Nujaba, in Iraq’s Babylon Province, according to an arm of Iraq’s security forces, the Popular Mobilization Forces. A hospital said at least three people were wounded in the explosion there.

There was no claim of responsibility for the strike on Saturday at the base used by Harakat al Nujaba, which is part of Iraq’s security apparatus. The U.S. military, which has carried out strikes on Iranian-backed armed groups in Iraq in the past, said in a statement that it had not participated in any strikes in Iraq.

Some analysts said that the small scale of Israel’s attack on Friday in Iran could give both countries a reason to refrain from further military strikes.

“It appears we are out of the danger zone and, because Israel’s strike was limited, it has allowed both countries to back down for now,” said Sanam Vakil, director of the Middle East and North Africa program at Chatham House, a British research institution.

The area around Isfahan has several Iranian military sites, including nuclear facilities that Israel has targeted in the past. But Iranian news agencies reported that none of the nuclear facilities had been hit and appeared keen to show that life was “back to normal” in the city known for its turquoise and purple tiled mosques, picturesque arched bridges and Grand Bazaar. Iran’s official news agency, IRNA, published a gallery of photos of people out and about in Isfahan — among them, women strolling with shopping bags and a child kicking a soccer ball.

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