Iran acknowledged a drone strike had targeted one of its military sites in the central city of Isfahan at the weekend, but stopped short of accusing any foreign or opposition groups of engineering the attack.
The Iranian defense ministry said a drone carrying a small bomb hit the roof of one building in the facility late on Saturday night, while two other drones were intercepted and destroyed. There were no casualties, it added, and no disruption was caused other than some “minor damage”.
A mobile phone video aired on Iranian state television showed the moment of the explosion: a flash of light accompanied by a powerful bang. Fars news agency, close to the Revolutionary Guards, posted another video shortly afterwards which showed fire trucks near the site.
Iran’s official news agency, IRNA, said the same facility in Isfahan had previously “experienced a similar thing”, without saying when. It added that the drones used at the weekend were advanced.
The strike comes at a time when international and domestic pressure is mounting on the Islamic republic on several fronts.
Western governments have criticized Iran for supplying Russia with drones that are being used in the war against Ukraine.
The same governments, as well as Israel, have also expressed concern about Iran’s development of its nuclear programme, vowing not to allow Tehran to build atomic weapons.
The Islamic republic has also attracted criticism for its suppression of anti-regime protests, led mostly by women, in response to the death of Mahsa Amini, a 22-year old who died in police custody after being detained for not properly wearing a headscarf.
Israel is widely believed to have masterminded a series of operations inside Iran over the past decade to sabotage the country’s nuclear programme. These covert operations include assassinations of nuclear scientists and attacks on atomic sites, as well as smuggling out documents.
Iranian media and officials, however, did not blame Israel for Saturday’s drone attack.
Iran’s army commander for ground forces, Kioumars Heydari, did not comment on the incident but said on Sunday that the country had made progress in developing various technologies in its defense industry.
“We are shedding old skin in the field of [production of] weapons,” he told his forces.
A US government spokesperson would not comment on whether the attack had come from Israel, but added that “no US military forces have conducted strikes or operations inside Iran”.
Additional reporting by Colby Smith in Washington