Satellite photos show damage at Iran site hit by drone attack
Iran has blamed Israel for the attack in Isfahan last week, threatening to again raise tensions in the region.
An analysis of satellite images appears to show damage to an Iranian military facility in a drone attack last week, including holes in the building’s roof, according to The Associated Press news agency.
Cloudy weather had prevented satellite pictures of the site of the facility from showing the effect of the attack on January 28.
While Iran has offered no explanation yet of what the facility in the city of Isfahan manufactured, the assault threatened to again raise tensions in the region, with Tehran blaming Israel for the drone attack, a conclusion that was also reached by United States officials.
Video taken of the attack showed an explosion at the site after anti-aircraft fire targeted the drones, likely from one of the drones reaching the building’s roof. Iran’s military has claimed that it shot down two other drones before they reached the site.
Images taken on Thursday by Planet Labs PBC showed the facility in Isfahan, some 350km (215 miles) south of Tehran. An AP analysis of the image, compared with earlier images of the workshop, showed damage to the structure’s roof.
That damage corresponded to footage aired by Iranian state television immediately after the attack that showed at least two holes in the building’s roof.
The Iranian state TV footage, as well as satellite photos, suggest the building’s roof also may have been built with so-called “slat armour”.
The structure resembles a cage built around roofs or armoured vehicles to stop direct detonation from rockets, missiles or bomb-carrying drones against a target.
The installation of such protection at the facility suggests Iran believed it could be a drone target.
Iran’s Ministry of Intelligence in July claimed to have broken up a plot to target sensitive sites around Isfahan.
A segment aired on Iranian state TV in October included purported confessions by alleged members of Komala, a Kurdish opposition party that is exiled from Iran and is now based in Iraq, in which they said they planned to target a military aerospace facility in Isfahan after being trained by Israel’s Mossad intelligence service.
It remains unclear whether the military facility targeted in the drone attack was that aerospace facility.
A letter published on Thursday by Iran’s ambassador to the United Nations, Amir Saeid Iravani, said early investigations had suggested that Israel was responsible. The letter, however, did not elaborate on what evidence supported Iran’s suspicion.
There have been several explosions and fires around Iranian military, nuclear and industrial facilities in the past few years.
Iran blamed Israel for the assassination of its top nuclear scientist, Mohsen Fakhrizadeh, in 2020, as well as an attack on its underground Natanz nuclear facility in April 2021 that damaged its centrifuges.
The attack comes as Iran’s government faces challenges both at home and abroad.
Nationwide protests have shaken the country since the September death of Mahsa Amini, a Kurdish-Iranian woman who had been detained by the country’s morality police. Its rial currency has also plummeted to new lows against the US dollar.