Climate Change Activists Dump Charcoal In Rome’s Trevi Fountain

Climate change activists in Rome, Italy turned the blue water of the Trevi Fountain black with diluted charcoal this past Sunday. 

The group consisted of 10 individuals from the climate activist group Ultima Generazione, which translates to ‘Last Generation.’ The group carried multiple banners, one of which stated “Let’s not pay for fossil campaigns considering what is happening in Emilia Romagna,” specifically referring to northern Italy, where there are multiple floods which some experts have linked to climate change. 

“Our country is dying.”

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Rome police stated that all of the activists were arrested and are facing vandalism charges. 

The counselor for personnel, urban security, local police, and local authorities in the Lazio region, Luisa Regimenti, condemned the recent act in a written statement. 

“This was the umpteenth demonstrative act of eco-vandals that hit a symbol of Rome universally known in the world.”

“[Dying the fountain] was a serious gesture, a worrying escalation that must be stopped with a safety plan for the monuments and the works of art most at risk in Rome and Lazio,” she continued. 

Mayor of Rome Roberto Gualtieri tweeted: “Enough of these absurd attacks on our artistic heritage. Today the #FontanadiTrevi was smeared. Expensive and complex to restore, hoping there is no permanent damage. I invite activists to compete on a confrontational terrain without putting the monuments at risk.”

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Mayor Gualtieri also explained to the local media that in order to correct the dying of the fountain, authorities would have to empty the dyed water and dispose of it: “This will involve a significant intervention. It will cost time, effort, and water.” 

This incident marks the third time this year that a famous Italian fountain was used for activists protesting for action to be taken towards flooding cities. 

In May, charcoal was dumped into the Fountain of Four Rivers in Piazza Navona, and in April, the Barcaccia fountain at the base of the Spanish Steps endured the same fate. The Last Generation has claimed responsibility for all three incidents. 

“Charcoal in the water of the Trevi Fountain, 1 out of 4 houses in Italy is vulnerable to floods. How much longer do we have to wait for those in government to take concrete action?”

Flooding in the northern Italian area has killed at least 14 people and displaced more than 36,000 residents. 

“The climate crisis is affecting territories with increasingly intense extreme events, with risks to people’s lives, and impacts on the environment and the economy. And Italy once again proves unprepared,” said Italian environmentalist association Legambiente in a press release.


More Than 29,000 People Evacuate Alberta Region Of Canada Due To Wildfires 

Officials are stating the Alberta region of Canada is enduring an “unprecedented situation” as more than 29,000 individuals were forced to flee their homes due to the spreading of more than 100 wildfires. 

Within the past 24 hours, 16 new fires have started in Alberta, according to Wildfire Information Unit Lead Christie Tucker. 

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Firefighters around the province are currently battling 108 active wildfires, according to Tucker, 31 of those wildfires were burning “out of control.”

This wildfire activity is quite uncommon for this early summer season, and firefighters aren’t used to seeing such a large mass of land burned. Bone-dry environmental conditions and abnormally hot weather, combined with high winds are said to be the biggest contributor to the “really extreme wildfire activity.” 

This year, so far, wildfires in Alberta have burned a total of 375,000 hectares of land, about 926,000 acres; a majority of which has occurred within the last few days.

Tucker also stated that additional firefighters and resources are currently heading to Alberta from across the country to assist the battle against the wildfires. Scattered showers on Sunday helped calm some of the blazes and tame some of the fires that were in difficult to reach places. 

Firefighters are now hoping that the cooler temperature and higher humidity brought on by the rain will help them as they fight the fires.

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“Up north, it’s still very dry. We’re still seeing winds and we are expecting a continuation of those kinds of conditions that can lead to extreme wildfire behavior,” Tucker said at a news conference. 

“Communities in Alberta have seen some extremely hot temperatures in the past week, with the capital city of Edmonton hitting 31 degrees Celsius, about 88 degrees Fahrenheit, on Wednesday and Thursday – more than 10 degrees above average,” according to the Canada Centre for Climate Services.

“The region has also seen a lack of precipitation which may have contributed to the extreme fire conditions in Alberta, drying out land and making fires more difficult to contain,” CNN Meteorologist Robert Shackelford said.

“So far, about 5,000 people have sought refuge at evacuation centers, “Alberta Emergency Management chief Colin Blair said.

Multiple hospitals have been fully evacuated and many roads in north and central Alberta, where a hefty amount of the fires are currently, have been closed.

“We have so many fires, so spread out and it’s because we’ve seen unprecedented conditions this spring. … It’s been an unusual year,” Tucker said.


Conflict In Sudan Leads To Mass Departure Of Foreigners While Locals Remain Trapped 

A conflict in Sudan between two rival general forces has led to a mass exodus of foreigners from the country while locals are struggling to escape and find themselves in the crossfire. 

Countries such as the United States, the United Kingdom, Sweden, Spain, the Netherlands, Italy, Japan, Germany, Canada, and France have airlifted and evacuated embassy staff, diplomates, and other residents over the weekend. The US and Canada also announced that their governments would be temporarily suspending their operations within the embassies in Khartoum. 

According to John Kirby, a coordinator for strategic communications at the National Security Council in the White House, there’s an estimated 16,000 Americans remaining in Sudan; most of which are dual citizens in Sudan as well. 

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“These are people that grew up in Sudan, work in Sudan, families are in Sudan and they want to stay in Sudan, so it’s a number that is difficult to plan specifically,” Kirby said to ABC News.

Kirby also explained that there are several dozen Americans making their way to Sudan’s main seaport through a United Nations convoy, while the US is monitoring them through intelligence surveillance to ensure they’re safe. 

“We still have military forces prepositioned in the region ready to respond if need be. But right now, it’s not very safe to try to run some larger evacuation either out of the nearby air base or even just through rotary lift like we did the other night because the fighting is so intense,” he said. 

“The safest thing for Americans to do — those who have decided to stay in Sudan despite the warnings to leave — is to shelter in place and to not move around too much in the city of Khartoum.”

Many Sudanese citizens are currently attempting to flee and risking their lives trying to get out of the crossfire of this conflict. 

U.N. Secretary-General Antonio Guterres said the “organization is working with aid groups on the ground and is reconfiguring our presence in Sudan to enable us to continue supporting the Sudanese people. In the meantime, [we have] authorized the temporary relocation both inside and outside Sudan of some U.N. personnel and their families.”

“I am in constant contact with the parties to the conflict and have called on them to de-escalate tensions and to return to the negotiating table,” Guterres added. 

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“Let me be clear: the United Nations is not leaving Sudan. Our commitment is to the Sudanese people, in support of their wishes for a peaceful and secure future. We stand with them at this terrible time.”

Tensions between General Abdel-Fattah Burhan, the commander of the Sudanese Armed Forces, and General Mohammed Hamdan Daglo, the head of the Rapid Support Forces, a Sudanese paramilitary group, reached a head on April 15th. 

While the two generals were once allies, they are now battling for control over the North African nation which is saturated in resources. Proposed cease-fires have been consistently failing, with both sides showing no sign of backing down. 

A majority of the fighting and violence is occurring in Sudan’s capital, Khartoum. More than 420 people have been killed and over 3,700 have been injured, according to reports from the World Health Organization. 

The U.S. has been in contact with the rival sides “every single day … trying to get them to put down their arms, to abide by the cease-fires that they themselves say they want and to return to some sort of civilian authority,” according to Kirby.

“We’re doing everything we can to get this fighting stopped,” he told ABC News.

 “This is a centrally located, very important, very large African country. We are concerned that other partners, other nations will be affected by this — not just in the region, but beyond — so that’s why we’re working so hard to get this violence stopped.”


Four Bodies Found In Aftermath Of Building Explosion In Marseille, France

Four bodies have been found after an explosion demolished a four-story apartment building in Marseille, France. Local authorities on the scene stated that four other individuals remain unaccounted for as rescue efforts are ongoing, according to reports from BBC.

The cause of the explosion, which occurred early Sunday morning,  is still unclear. Authorities and investigators are currently looking into a potential gas leak that may have caused the explosion. 

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Oliver Klein, the housing minister, stated that the government will be supporting the victims’ families, and the discovery of the bodies was “gruesome, difficult and dramatic”. 

Around 200 people were evacuated from their homes while five individuals from adjacent buildings sustained minor injuries due to the explosion. 

Benoit Payan, the mayor of Marseille, told reporters Monday morning that there is still a risk that nearby buildings could collapse as over 100 firefighters attended to the blaze and damage caused by the explosion. 

Of the four individuals unaccounted for, two are a “young couple” who are believed to live in an apartment in the building; each floor of the building is said to house one apartment. The fire department stated that “given the difficulties of intervention, the extraction [of the bodies from the site] will take time.”

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Psychological support has been offered to individuals related to the explosion while a local gym and two schools have been opened up to accommodate anyone who has been displaced. 

French President Emmanuel Macron stated he was “thinking of those affected and their loved ones, [we thank] the emergency workers for their efforts.”

Mayor Benoît Payan said “rescuers remain determined to find people alive. Hope must hold us.”

Saveria Mosnier, who lives nearby, told local reporters: “I was sleeping and there was this huge blast that really shook the room. I was shocked awake as if I had been dreaming. We very quickly smelled a strong gas odor that hung around. We could still smell it this morning”.

Deputy Mayor Yannick Ohanessian told reporters that “several witnesses have reached us this morning to say there was a suspicious smell of gas.” 

Rescue and rehabilitation efforts are still under way as the investigation into the reasoning behind this tragedy are continued to be analyzed.

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At Least 39 Killed in Fire at Migrant Detention Center Near Mexico-US Border

A fire at a migration center in Ciudad Juarez, Mexico left at least 39 people dead and 29 others injured after migrants facing deportation set their mattresses ablaze, authorities said on Tuesday. The facility lies near the United States and Mexico border, across El Paso, Texas, a major crossing point for migrants seeking asylum.

The fire broke out late Monday at the National Migration Institute (INM) after authorities picked up a group of migrants from the city streets and detained them. Tensions had been high between authorities and migrants in the area.

Mexico’s President Andrés Manuel López Obrador said authorities “do not know exactly the names and nationalities of those who unfortunately lost their lives,” but believes “migrants from Central America and same from Venezuela were in that shelter.”

“This had to do with a protest that they started after, we assume, they found out that they were going to be deported, and as a protest, they put mattresses from the shelter at the door of the shelter, and they set fire to them. They did not imagine that this was going to cause this terrible accident.”

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On March 9th, an open letter protesting the criminalization of migrants and asylum seekers was published by more than 30 migrant shelters and advocacy organizations in Ciudad Juarez. The groups stated that police were improperly asking people about their immigration status on the street.

The city’s federal deputy, Andrea Chavez, tweeted about the incident on Tuesday, expressing her condolences.

“It is with deep sadness and grief that we learned of the fire that occurred inside the INM in Ciudad Juárez. We will wait for the official information and, from this moment on, we send our condolences to the families of the migrants. FGR initiated the investigation.”

Reuters reported a grim scene of several body bags lined up outside the facility. The incident is one of the worst fires of recent years in Mexico.

Venezuelan national Viangly Infante told Reuters about her experience witnessing the fire and its aftermath. Her husband was inside the detention center in a holding cell during the fire but survived it by dousing himself in water and pressing up against a door.

“I was here since one in the afternoon waiting for the father of my children, and when 10 p.m. rolled around, smoke started coming out from everywhere.”

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White House National Security Council spokesperson Adrienne Watson called the tragedy “heartbreaking” in a tweet.

“The tragic loss of life in Ciudad Juárez is heartbreaking. Our prayers are with those who lost their lives, their loved ones, and those still fighting for their lives. The United States has been in touch with Mexican officials and stands ready to provide any needed support.”

Mexico is the world’s third most popular destination for asylum seekers, after the United States and Germany. However, it mainly serves as a transit point for those aiming to enter the U.S.

The Biden administration has heightened efforts to curb the number of migrants crossing the border after seeing a record level of crossings in recent years. Mexico has also stepped up its efforts to stem the flow of migration into the U.S., causing it to struggle with overcrowding in its facilities, which house tens of thousands of migrants.

In February, the administration proposed a new rule that would broadly prohibit migrants from applying for asylum in the U.S. without first applying for asylum in the countries they transit through on their way to the shared border.

There are more than 2,200 people in Ciudad Juarez’s shelters and more migrants outside shelters from Venezuela, Nicaragua, Colombia, Guatemala, Ecuador, Peru, and El Salvador, according to The Strauss Center for International Security and Law at the University of Texas at Austin.


China’s President Xi Jinping Vows To Bolster National Security In First Speech Of New Term 

China’s president, Xi Jinping, recently made his first speech as a third-term president in which he vowed to bolster China’s national security and build the military into a “great wall of steel.”

Xi spoke at the closing of China’s annual rubber-stamp parliament meeting regarding the need to “modernize” China’s national defense and military. 

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“We must build the People’s Liberation Army into a great wall of steel that effectively safeguards national sovereignty, security, and development interests.”

Xi was unanimously endorsed by the NPC as China’s president for another five years, making him the longest serving head of state of Communist China since it was founded in 1949. 

“This is my third time assuming the lofty position as president. The trust of the people is the biggest driving force for me to move forward, and also a heavy responsibility on my shoulders,” he said, as reported by CNN.

“China’s suffering at the hands of bullying foreign powers in the modern era, the Communist Party has led the country to wipe clean the national humiliation. The Chinese people have become the masters of their own destiny. The great rejuvenation of the Chinese nation has entered an irreversible historical process,”  he said.

According to Xi the “essence of that rejuvenation is national unification, namely reunifying Taiwan with mainland China.”

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Despite China never controlling Taiwan, it considers the self-governing democracy as part of its territory. 

During his presidency, Xi has ramped up economic, diplomatic, and military pressure on Taiwan’s Democracy with Beijing. 

“We must… actively promote peaceful development of cross-strait relations, firmly oppose interference of external forces and Taiwan’s separatist activities, and resolutely advance the process of national reunification,” Xi said.

“Security is the foundation for development, stability is the prerequisite for prosperity,” he said.

The focus of strengthening China’s military also follows tensions between the nation and the US. Xi even accused the US of “leading Western countries to contain and suppress China and bring it unprecedented severe challenges. 

Qin Gang, Xi’s new foreign minister, also warned that China and the US will “descend into conflict and confrontation,” if the US doesn’t “hit the breaks.” 


South Korea And Japan Reach Deal Over Wartime Labor Disputes

This week, South Korea announced a new deal that will compensate the nation’s forced labor victims from Japan’s occupation of Korea. The two nations have been working to better their relationship due to increased security situations. 

“[This is] a groundbreaking new chapter of cooperation and partnership between two of the United States’ closest allies,” said US President Joe Biden. 

Park Jin, South Korea’s Foreign Minister, announced on Monday that the government’s Foundation for Victims of Forced Mobilization by Imperial Japan will financially compensate 15 victims or their family members using private donations. 

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The decision also follows a 2018 South Korean Supreme Court ruling that stated Japan’s Nippon Steel and Mitsubishi Heavy Industry should compensate 100 million Korean won ($77,000) to each of the 15 South Korean victims who were mobilized between 1940 to 1945 during Japan’s occupation. 

Today, only three of those 15 victims are still alive, and all of them are in their 90s. 

“We welcome the measures announced by the South Korean government today as a way to restore a healthy relationship between Japan and South Korea, which has been in a very difficult situation since South Korea’s Supreme Court ruling in 2018,” Japanese Foreign Minister Yoshimasa Hayashi told reporters.

“The measures announced by the South Korean government are not on the premise that Japanese companies will contribute to the foundation (in South Korea). The Japanese government doesn’t have any particular stance on voluntary donations by individuals or private companies both in Japan and abroad,” he said according to CNN.

Back in 2018, Japan didn’t agree with the South Korean Supreme Court decision, and no compensation has been paid, leading to increased tensions between the two nations. Japan began restricting exports of materials to South Korea while South Korea disposed of its military intelligence-sharing agreement with Tokyo.

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While the two countries signed a treaty in 1965 meant to settle any lingering issues between them, tensions remained, and South Korea’s military dictatorship at the time led many citizens to feel like the deal wasn’t fair. 

Current South Korean president Yoon Suk Yeol has been working hard to mend the relationship, specifically between Seol and Tokyo. The administration wants the two US allies to be on the best terms possible due to an increase in security risks coming from North Korea and their multiple missile tests. 

“Under Yoon, South Korea has been striving to come up with a reasonable solution that is in the common interest of both countries, while respecting the opinions of the forced labor victims,” Foreign Minister Park said Monday.

“I think we need to break the vicious cycle for the people in terms of national interest without neglecting such a prolonged strained relationship between South Korea and Japan,” Park said.

Biden stated that both nations were “taking a critical step to forge a future for the Korean and Japanese people that is safer, more secure, and more prosperous.”

Corey Wallace, an East Asia politics and security analyst at Kanagawa University in Japan, said he sees Monday’s “agreement as an outgrowth of Yoon’s much bolder embrace of Japan as a ‘partner’ over the last nine months.

Both sides have started to adjust their perceptions of the value of trilateral security cooperation and the costs of bilateral antagonism vis-a-vis North Korea. It is also related to broader concerns in both countries about the sustainability of the US military posture in East Asia given both military developments in North Korea and China and recent events in Europe,” Wallace stated. 


Over 60 Dead And Dozens Missing In Italy Migrant Tragedy 

Italy’s southern coast was the site of a major migrant tragedy in which 62 people have been reported dead while dozens remain missing. At least seven children have died after a boat broke up within stormy seas off the Calabrian coast this past Sunday. 

The boat was reported to have 170 passengers on it with around 80 surviving, while the remaining unaccounted for individuals are feared to have also passed away. 

The United Nations and Doctors Without Borders were at the scene of the accident, where they reported a majority of the victims were Afghan, Pakistani, and Iraq; all groups were seeking asylum in the EU. 

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Monday, two coast guard vessels performed search and rescue from north to south off Steccato di Cutro while a helicopter assisted from the air. Firefighters located three additional bodies on Monday as well. 

“I think no, because the sea conditions are too difficult. But we can never abandon this hope,” said provincial fire Commander Roberto Fasano. 

Italy is a major destination for migrant smugglers, specifically traffickers from the Libyan shores and Turkey. According to the UN, “ arrivals from the Turkish route accounted for 15% of the 105,000 migrants who arrived on Italian shores last year, with nearly half of those fleeing from Afghanistan.”

Potential refugees from Turkey have been known to take risky journeys through the Mediterranean to avoid Greece, where authorities have been pushing back on migrant entry. 

The EU’s Frontex border agency confirmed on Saturday that they saw the migrant ship heading for the Calabrian coast, and Italian authorities were immediately notified. While the ship was initially reported to look overcrowded, there were no reports of danger. 

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After boat remains were found on the shores near Crotone, Frontex declared a rescue operation to search for survivors. 

“It was impossible to conduct any possible maneuver to get close (to the migrant ship) or to carry out a rescue due to the sea conditions. We always have to consider that rescues carried out by institutional rescue teams must avoid putting at risk the lives of the rescuers while they are trying to rescue others,” Interior Minister Matteo Piatedosi said. 

Firefighter Inspector Giuseppe Larosa said the “first rescue crews to arrive were devastated by how many children had drowned, and observed that the bodies of the dead had scratches all over them, as if they had tried to hang onto the boat to save themselves.”

“It was a spine-chilling scene, the reaction of the survivors haunted [me]. The thing that struck me the most was their silence. The terror in their eyes and the fact that they were mute. Silent,” Larosa stated. 

Rescue efforts are currently still being made to account for all 170 passengers of the vessel.


Turkey And Syria Facing Years Of Rebuilding Following 7.8 Magnitude Earthquake 

Turkey and Syria are currently enduring the aftermath of a 7.8 magnitude earthquake that left both nations in complete devastation. 

“We’ve done a bit of mapping of the size of the affected area, it’s the size of France,” said the director of disasters, climate, and crises at the International Federation of the Red Cross, Caroline Holt, to CNN.

“We haven’t yet seen the full extent of the damage and of the humanitarian crisis unfolding before our eyes,” said Antonio Guterres, the United Nations Security-General. 

The World Health Organization estimated up to 23 million people could be impacted by the disaster. More than 100 aftershocks have been recorded within a day and a half following the initial earthquake, one of which had a magnitude of 7.5.

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As of last Friday more than 22,000 deaths have been reported. While Turkey has experienced earthquakes in the past, citizens are angry that the government doesn’t have a more solid preparation plan in place that could’ve protected more people.

Ajay Chhibber, an economist who was World Bank director for Turkey, told CNN that “it’s like a bad movie [that’s] coming back again. Similar to this week’s event, a past 1999 earthquake tremor struck in the early hours but it occurred in the country’s northwest – a densely populated area closer to Istanbul. It lasted around 45 seconds, leaving more than 17,000 dead and an estimated 500,000 people homeless.”

More than 6,000 buildings have collapsed. Chhibber stated that “Turkey is capable of moving very, very swiftly if they can get their act together on this.”

Ismail Baris, professor of social work at Istanbul’s Uskudar University and former mayor of Golcuk at the time of the quake, told CNN that “in addition to the collapsed private and public buildings, the city’s water transport pipes, water supply network, sewage system [and] storm water system were completely destroyed, as well as 80% of the city’s roads.”

“Across the border in Syria, rebuilding efforts will be even more complicated. Syrians face“nightmares on top of nightmares, and the World Food Program has described the situation in the northwest of the country as a catastrophe on top of catastrophe,” Guterres warned this past weekend.

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“We have the perfect humanitarian storm in Syria,” said Caroline Holt.

Pre-earthquake, the UN has estimated that more than 4 million people were already dependent on humanitarian aid due to the civil war which has been impacting Syria since 2011. “After 12 years of constant pain, suffering and living in a vulnerable context, your ability to withstand – especially in winter – the harsh conditions that you’re facing [is diminished],” Holt told CNN.

“The conflict – or conflicts – are much worse in that area of Syria than in that area of Turkey,” said Ilan Kelman, professor of disasters and health at University College London. 

“While Turkey has political problems of its own, they do have a comparatively strong government and comparatively strong military in comparison to Syria, which is at war. Turkey also has greater pre-earthquake resources. Neither country is especially rich, but Turkey at least has that baseline where they’ve not been in a major conflict dividing the country for 12 years. They have not been isolated through sanctions,” Kelman said.

“While disasters like this wreak havoc, they also create opportunities to prevent such havoc being wrought again. There is a man-made part of every natural disaster,” according to Chhibber.

“We do have examples where people have taken the opportunity to say there has been a disaster, and we want to help people, so let’s try to reconstruct in such a way that we are supporting peace. At the moment, I do not see either government responding in that way, and I do not see the world responding in that way,” Kelman said.


US Media Reports Israel As Being Responsible For Drone Attacks At Iranian Military Plant

According to reports from The Wall Street Journal and New York Times, Israel was responsible for drone attacks on a military plant in Iran; specifically in the central city of Isfahan. The New York Times cited a senior intelligence official who was familiar with the conflict between Israel and Iran. 

A US Department of Defense spokesperson also told CNN that the US has not conducted strikes or operations in Iran. 

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“We’ve seen the press reports, but can confirm that no US military forces have conducted strikes or operations inside Iran. We continue to monitor the situation, but have nothing further to provide.”

The Israel Defense Forces and Iran’s Defense Ministry have not offered any information regarding the attack.

“An explosion has occurred in one of the military centers affiliated to the Ministry of Defense. The explosion had left some damage, “but fortunately there were no casualties,” said the deputy head of security for Isfahan governorate Mohammad Reza Jan-Nesari to the Fars News Agency.

IRNA, a state news agency, also stated “the explosion had been caused by “small drones.”

“There was an unsuccessful attack by small drones against a defense ministry industrial complex and fortunately with predictions and air defense arrangements already in place, one of them (struck),” IRNA said.

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“The air defense system of the complex was able to destroy two other drones. Fortunately, this unsuccessful attack killed no one and minor damage was sustained to the roof of the complex.”

Within the past few years there have been several explosions that have occurred around Iranian military and nuclear facilities. 

According to Iran’s Supreme Nation Security Council, as reported by CNN, “In July 2020, a fire tore through the Iranian Natanz nuclear complex, a site that has been key to the country’s uranium enrichment program, in Isfahan Province, south of the capital Tehran. Iranian authorities decided not to publicly announce the findings on what caused the fire due to security concerns.”

In 2021, Natanz experiences a blackout, which Iran’s Atomic Energy Organization labeled a “terrorist action,” with a potential involvement from Israel.

No further reports on the recent explosion have been made at this time from either nation.