April 14: Iran launched an unprecedented large-scale drone and missile attack at Israel on Saturday night, in retaliation for a suspected Israeli strike on an Iranian diplomatic complex in Syria, bringing the long-running shadow war between the two sides into the open and raising the prospect of full-blown regional conflict.

More than 300 projectiles – including around 170 drones and over 120 ballistic missiles – were fired toward Israel in an immense aerial attack overnight, but “99%” of them were intercepted by Israel’s aerial defense systems and its “partners,” according to the Israeli military.

The reprisals marked the first time the Islamic Republic has launched a direct assault on Israel from its soil, marking a dangerous new inflection point in the fast widening Middle East conflict.

Iran has warned that it will respond with “stronger and more resolute” actions if Israel retaliates over this weekend’s strikes, according to Tehran’s ambassador to the United Nations.

In a phone call with Israel Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu on Saturday night, US President Joe Biden made clear the US would not participate in any offensive operations against Iran – as he reaffirmed “America’s ironclad commitment to the security of Israel,” a senior White House official told CNN.

Biden told Netanyahu he should consider the events of Saturday night a “win” as Iran’s attacks had been largely unsuccessful, and instead demonstrated Israel’s “remarkable capacity to defend against and defeat even unprecedented attacks.”

The US assessed that almost all of the drones and missiles – including more than 100 ballistic missiles – launched by Iran had been knocked out of the sky. No cruise missile made impact and nothing of “value” was hit, according to the administration official.

There have been no reports of injuries suffered directly through Iranian strikes, according to Israel’s emergency service, though it said a 7-year-old girl had been severely injured by shrapnel from Israel’s interceptor missile.

As news of the attack broke, public shelters were opened in the northern Israeli city of Haifa and large public gatherings banned. Israel closed its airspace, as did nearby Jordan, Iraq and Lebanon. By Sunday morning both Israel and Jordan reopened their airspace.

CNN’s team in Jerusalem could hear explosions and sirens as apparent intercepts took place early Sunday morning local time.

“We are continuing to see multiple intercepts in the skies above me coming from multiple different directions. It’s hard to tell what is an incoming missile and what is an intercept,” CNN’s Nic Robertson reported.

“I’m hearing multiple, multiple detonations, again of what sound like interceptions. I am not hearing the sound of impacts,” he said, adding that his team had already witnessed dozens of apparent intercepts.

By early morning Sunday local time, Iran’s mission to the United Nations announced that the attack was now “deemed concluded” – but warned of potential future escalation.

Separately, more than 55 rockets were fired from Lebanon to Israel on early morning Sunday local time, according to the Israeli military.

The onslaught against Israel prompted Biden to hold a lengthy meeting with his national security team on Saturday night to assess the situation, according to a US official.

Biden will also meet with G7 leaders on Sunday “to coordinate a united diplomatic response to Iran’s brazen attack,” according to a statement released by the White House.

US defensive assets moved to the region earlier this week and “helped Israel take down nearly all of the incoming drones and missiles,” according to the statement.

US forces intercepted more than 70 one-way attack drones and at least 3 ballistic missiles Iran fired toward Israel, according to two US official familiar with the situation.

The ballistic missiles were intercepted by warships in the eastern Mediterranean Sea, one of the officials said. The US Navy currently has two destroyers in that area, both are guided missile destroyers capable of intercepting missile and drone launches.

US fighter jets were also part of the US’ response to Iran’s attack on Saturday and shot down drones launched towards Israel, another US official told CNN.

Retaliation for strike on embassy complex

Fears that Israel’s war in Gaza could spiral into a wider regional conflict have been been rising since Iran accused Israel of bombing its diplomatic complex in Syria earlier this month.

The airstrike destroyed the consulate building in the capital Damascus, killing at least seven officials including Mohammed Reza Zahedi, a top commander in Iran’s elite Revolutionary Guards (IRGC), and senior commander Mohammad Hadi Haji Rahimi, Iran’s foreign ministry said at the time.

Zahedi, a former commander of the IRGC’s ground forces, air force, and the deputy commander of its operations, was the most high-profile Iranian target killed since then-US President Donald Trump ordered the assassination of IRGC Gen. Qassem Soleimani in Baghdad in 2020.

Iran Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei said Israel would be punished for the attack, while President Ebrahim Raisi said it would “not go unanswered,” state news agency IRNA reported. The Iran-backed Lebanese militant group Hezbollah said the strike would be met with “punishment and revenge.”

Israel has not publicly acknowledged responsibility for the strike but said it believed the building struck was a “military building of Quds forces” — a unit of the IRGC responsible for foreign operations.

Shortly after the launch of the drones on Saturday night, Iran’s Defense Minister, Brigadier General Mohammad Reza Ashtiani, warned that any country that allows Israel to use its airspace or territory for attacking Iran would face a “decisive response.”