Australia ‘extremely concerned’ after Israeli airstrikes on Iran confirmed by US

<span>Acting foreign minister Katy Gallagher says Australia is concerned after reports Israel has launched airstrikes on Iran.</span><span>Photograph: Lukas Coch/AAP</span>
Acting foreign minister Katy Gallagher says Australia is concerned after reports Israel has launched airstrikes on Iran.Photograph: Lukas Coch/AAP

The Australian government has urged all parties to “exercise restraint and step back” after the US confirmed Israel has launched retaliatory strikes on Iran, bringing the Middle East closer to a regional war.

Officials in Washington said Israeli forces were carrying out military operations against Iran but did not describe the character or scale of those operations. Iranian state media said that drones had been shot down over Isfahan province in the early hours, and showed live shots of morning traffic in Isfahan city after sunrise to show that the situation was calm.

Related: Israel has mounted airstrikes on Iran, US confirms, as Tehran plays down attack

The acting foreign minister, Katy Gallagher, said on Friday that Australia “remains extremely concerned about the potential for miscalculation and further escalation of conflict in the region”.

“This is in no one’s interests,” Gallagher said.

“We urge all parties to exercise restraint and step back to avoid a further spiral of violence.”

Gallagher said Australia would continue working with its partners to try to reduce tensions and prevent further regional spillover.

Reuters on Friday cited sources saying Israel launched an attack on Iranian soil, in the latest tit-for-tat exchange between the two arch-foes.

Iranian media later reported explosions but an Iranian official told Reuters those were caused by air defence systems.

Three drones over the central city of Isfahan were shot down. Israel was silent on Friday about the latest escalation.

The Greens leader, Adam Bandt, said the Albanese government must condemn all sides, adding silence against Israel’s action would be “considered tacit support of the actions of Benjamin Netanyahu’s extreme war cabinet”.

“The only role Australia should play is pushing for de-escalation,” he said.

At a Jewish congregation in Melbourne on Friday morning, shortly before the first strikes, the opposition leader, Peter Dutton, said his party would always discern “lawful from the lawless, always differentiate civilisation from barbarism, and always discern the good from the evil”.

“This is why the unequivocal condemnation of Hamas is right,” he said. “And that is why we must unambiguously denounce Iran’s military attack on Israel and the regime’s sponsoring of terrorist groups across the region.”

Tensions have been rising since an airstrike on the Iranian embassy compound in Damascus on 1 April that was blamed on Israel. That strike killed a senior figure in Iran’s Revolutionary Guards and eight other officers.

In response, Iran on 14 April launched missiles toward Israel. Almost all were shot down.

The Australian government unequivocally condemned Iran’s strikes towards Israel, saying the “reckless” action was “a grave threat to the security of Israel and the entire region”.

Meanwhile, the Australian government’s SmartTraveller website was updated on Friday to reflect the latest developments. The advice for Australians remains “do not travel” to Iran and “reconsider your need to travel” to Israel or the Occupied Palestinian Territories.

“Regional tensions are high, and the security situation could deteriorate quickly with little or no notice,” the website said.

For Israel, SmartTraveller warns “there’s a high threat of military reprisals and terrorist attacks against Israel and Israeli interests across the region”.

– With Australian Associated Press

• This story was amended on 19 April 2024 to clarify that a senior figure in Iran’s Revolutionary Guards and eight other officers were killed in the 1 April 2024 strike on the Iranian embassy in Damascus. An earlier version incorrectly stated that no one was killed.