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Why Iran is downplaying Israel's Isfahan attack despite public bravado

Iranian officials appeared uninterested in entering into a fresh round of escalation with Israel and soft-pedaled on the severity of the Isfahan attack, which, in their view, did not invite reciprocation.
A man walks past a banner depicting missiles along a street in Tehran on April 19, 2024. Iran's state media reported explosions in the central province of Isfahan on April 19, as US media quoted officials saying Israel had carried out retaliatory strikes on its arch-rival. (Photo by AFP) (Photo by -/AFP via Getty Images)

TEHRAN — Iran's army chief, Maj. Gen. Abdolrahim Mousavi, said several explosions near the central city of Isfahan predawn Friday occurred due to air defense fire, amid reports that Israel targeted a military base inside Iran in response to the latter's weekend attack.

According to Mousavi, who was cited by state media, the Iranian air defense successfully shot down three "suspicious flying objects," with the incident resulting in no damage or casualties. 

In clear contrast to the extensive Western media coverage and confirmation by American officials that the attack was conducted by Israel, the Iranian side adhered to downplaying and, as of this writing, largely refrained from even pointing any finger of blame at Israel.

"The city is calm, safe and secure," the state television reported via its local correspondent in Isfahan, which is surrounded by several highly-guarded nuclear and military centers. 

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