Iran on Sunday launched hundreds of drones and missiles toward Israel in its first-ever direct military attack on the country, AP reported.

The attack is believed to be a response to a suspected Israeli airstrike on the Iranian embassy in Syria earlier this month that killed 16 people, including seven Iranian Revolutionary Guards. The Iranian Revolutionary Guards is part of the Iranian armed forces.

United States President Joe Biden said that his country’s support for Israel is “ironclad” and claimed that US forces had intervened to intercept “nearly all” the drones and missiles fired by Iran. “I told [Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu] that Israel demonstrated a remarkable capacity to defend against and defeat even unprecedented attacks,” BBC quoted Biden as saying.

United Kingdom Defence Minister Grant Shapps also confirmed the deployment of Royal Air Force planes in the region.

The attack, which pushes West Asia closer to a regional war, was confirmed by the Israeli military and by Iran’s state-run media, which claimed the launch of “dozens of drones and missiles towards the occupied territories and positions of the Zionist regime”, according to AP.

The majority of incoming threats were intercepted outside Israel’s borders and airspace, claimed Israel Defense Forces spokesperson Rear Admiral Daniel Hagari. He described Iran’s military action as “widespread” and called it a “major escalation” of tensions between the two countries.

Iran’s state-run media claimed to have targeted an Israeli air base in the Negev desert.

India’s External Affairs Ministry said that New Delhi was “seriously concerned at the escalation of hostilities between Israel and Iran, which threatens the peace and security in the region”. “We call for immediate de-escalation, exercise of restraint, stepping back from violence and return to the path of diplomacy,” the ministry said in a statement.

The ministry said that it is closely monitoring the situation and that India’s diplomatic missions in the region were in touch with the Indian communities. It emphasised the importance of maintaining “security and stability” in West Asia.

The Indian diplomatic mission in Israel asked Indian citizens there to “stay calm and adhere to the safety protocols” issued by local authorities. “Embassy is closely monitoring the situation and is in touch with the Israeli authorities and Indian community members to ensure the safety of our nationals,” it said in a social media post.

The United Nations Security Council will convene an urgent meeting on Sunday at Israel’s request, reported AFP.

France, a permanent member of the United Nations Security Council, said that “Iran has crossed a new threshold with regard to its destabilising activities and is risking a potential military escalation”.

United Kingdom Prime Minister Rishi Sunak called it “reckless”.

German Chancellor Olaf Scholz’s spokesperson said that Germany “stands closely by Israel” and warned that Iran was risking a “regional conflagration” with its “irresponsible and unjustifiable attack”.

On Saturday, the Israel Defense Forces announced the closure of schools and limited public assemblies to not more than 1,000 people.

Iran’s attack comes amid widening tensions in West Asia as Israel pushes ahead with its war on Gaza, which started more than six months ago. The Israeli military’s air and ground operations in the besieged Palestinian territory have killed over 33,000 people so far. The war began after Palestinian militant group Hamas led an incursion into southern Israel on October 7, killing 1,200 people and taking over 200 hostages.