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UK urges ‘de-escalation’ after reported Israeli strike on Iran

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London, April 19: The British government is stressing the need for “de-escalation and moderation” amid reports of a retaliatory attack by Israel against Iran.

Cabinet minister Mel Stride said the UK recognizes Israel’s right to defend itself, while also pressing its ally to “work hard towards de-escalation.”

Iran said it fired air defence systems early on Friday to shoot down drones spotted at a major air base and nuclear site near the city of Isfahan, raising fears of a wider conflagration in the region.

Unnamed US officials said Israel carried out the airstrikes, according to reports, days after Israel was targeted by a barrage of Iranian drones and missiles.

British Foreign Secretary David Cameron is discussing the developments with counterparts at the G7 foreign ministers meeting in Italy, Stride said.

The Work and Pensions Secretary told Times Radio: “I think what we should say first and foremost, of course, is this is an evolving situation. These are unconfirmed reports as at the moment.

“But where we are as a government is recognizing very clearly that Israel has a right to defend itself. Indeed we joined in with others in doing exactly that when Iran made that a very significant attack on Israel at the weekend.

“At the same time though, we are pressing our Israeli allies and others in the region to really work hard towards de-escalation. So that is the important message that we have at the moment, but obviously, we need to wait to see how events unfold and exactly what has happened.

“I know the foreign secretary is speaking with his G7 counterparts in Italy as we speak, and of course, they will be focused on exactly that, and the importance of de-escalating tensions in the region.”

Stride declined to say whether the UK would support Israel’s reported strikes in Iran if confirmed, or any further action.

“I don’t want to get into hypotheticals,” he told Sky News.

“We are very firmly engaged in counselling de-escalation and moderation at this particular moment.”

Israel had vowed to respond to Iran’s weekend attack, despite calls for restraint from allies, some of whom – including the UK, US and France – helped Israel repel Tehran’s unprecedented drone and missile barrage.

The onslaught followed Israel’s targeting of an Iranian diplomatic compound in Syria earlier this month.

The two arch foes have waged a shadow war for decades, but the strike over the weekend was the first direct Iranian military attack on Israeli soil.

IANS

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