Demonstrators wave Iran's flag as they gather at Palestine Square in Tehran on April 14, 2024, after Iran launched a drone and missile attack on Israel.

Demonstrators wave Iran's flag as they gather at Palestine Square in Tehran on April 14, 2024, after Iran launched a drone and missile attack on Israel. ATTA KENARE / AFP via Getty Images

US forces down missiles as Iran attacks Israel

Navy warships and Air Force fighter squadrons shot down dozens of drones and a half dozen ballistic missiles launched from Iran and Yemen, U.S. officials said.

This story was updated at 9:52 p.m. EST April 14.

U.S. fighter jets and warships downed dozens of drones and ballistic missiles launched at Israel by Iran and its proxy groups around midnight Sunday morning local time. The U.S. forces were part of a multinational force that turned back a barrage of more than 300 armed drones and missiles, officials said.

U.S. forces in the Middle East "intercepted dozens of missiles and [unmanned aerial vehicles] en route to Israel, launched from Iran, Iraq, Syria, and Yemen," Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin said in a statement, adding that the U.S. military remains "postured to protect U.S. troops and partners in the region, provide further support for Israel’s defense, and enhance regional stability."

The U.S. Air Force's 494th and 335th Fighter Squadrons both participated in the mission, which U.S. Central Command said "successfully engaged and destroyed more than 80 one-way attack" aerial drones "and at least six ballistic missiles" that had been launched from Iran and Yemen to hit Israel. The destroyed vehicles included a ballistic missile still on its launcher vehicle, and seven aerial drones still on the ground in Yemen, CENTCOM said. 

Between four and six more ballistic missiles were downed by two U.S. Navy destroyers in the Mediterranean Sea, a senior military official told reporters on Sunday.

U.S. President Joe Biden, in a statement, said he had directed the U.S. military to move aircraft and ballistic missile defense to the region "over the course of the past week."

"Thanks to these deployments and the extraordinary skill of our servicemembers, we helped Israel take down nearly all of the incoming drones and missiles," Biden said.

Biden also said he spoke to Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu "to reaffirm America’s ironclad commitment to the security of Israel."

On Sunday, the leaders of the G7 countries released a statement to "unequivocally condemn in the strongest terms Iran's direct and unprecedented attack against Israel.... With its actions, Iran has further stepped toward the destabilization of the region and risks provoking an uncontrollable regional escalation. This must be avoided. We will continue to work to stabilize the situation and avoid further escalation. In this spirit, we demand that Iran and its proxies cease their attacks, and we stand ready to take further measures now and in response to further destabilizing initiatives." 

Air raid sirens began to blare in Jerusalem around 1:45 a.m. local time; shortly afterward, journalists on the ground reported seeing and hearing intercepts of missiles in the air, but no impacts on the ground.

Iran said the attack is a response for an airstrike on the Iranian consulate in Syria on April 1, which it blames on Israel.

The attack is the first time Iran “launched a direct military assault on Israel,” the Associated Press reported from Jerusalem.

“This is the moment for the United States to show we stand together with our allies. Our shared enemies, including Iran and their proxies, need to know our commitment is unwavering. We must join with Israel to ensure that Iran’s aggression is met with resolute action and resounding strength,” Sen. Roger Wicker, R-Miss., ranking member of the Senate Armed Services Committee, said in a statement.