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May 24, 2021 6:11 pm
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Report: Facility in Iran Used for Drone Manufacturing Hit by Explosion That Injured Nine, Days After Israel Downs Iranian UAV

avatar by Sharon Wrobel

Drones are seen during a large-scale drone combat exercise of Army of the Islamic Republic of Iran, in Semnan, Iran January 4, 2021. Picture taken January 4, 2021. Photo: Iranian Army / WANA (West Asia News Agency)/Handout via REUTERS

An explosion was reported at a complex in Iran that houses a drone factory, several days after Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu unveiled to European foreign ministers parts from an Iranian unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV) that had been downed during clashes with the Hamas militant group.

The explosion, which reportedly occurred on Sunday at a petrochemical factory complex in Isfahan, injured at least nine workers. According to the Guardian, the Iran Aircraft Manufacturing Industrial Company (HESA), which it said is located in the complex owned by Sepahan Nargostar Chemical Industries, produces a variety of aircraft and drones for Iranian and pro-Iranian forces.

Iran has not provided any information on the source of the explosion or the extent of the damage to the factory. The incident comes after Netanyahu revealed on Thursday that during the hostilities with the Hamas, “Iran sent an armed drone from Iraq or Syria, which our forces intercepted on the border between Israel and Jordan, and that I think says everything on the true patron of terror in the Middle East and in the world: Iran.”

During the conflict, the Israeli army also shot down a so-called armed suicide drone carrying explosives, launched by Hamas at Israeli territory.

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Jason M. Brodsky, senior Middle East analyst and editor at Iran International, told The Algemeiner that HESA was a part of Iran’s “proliferation pipeline,” with variants of the aircraft company’s drones having “found their way into the hands of Iran’s proxies and partners in the Middle East” — including, by some accounts, the Houthi rebels in Yemen.

Brodsky noted that there have been conflicting reports as to whether HESA is in fact located within the Sepahan Nargostar Chemical Industries complex. But, he said, “if HESA was actually targeted, the timing is noteworthy as it comes after the IDF’s downing of the armed drone last week, which it said was launched by Iran from either Iraq or Syria. The point of origin of the drone is very important to ascertain.”

“Israel has downed drones launched from Syria in the past, for example in February 2018. However, a launch from Iraq would represent an escalation in the number of theaters Iran is prepared to use to attack Israel. Iran’s Axis of Resistance has used Iraq as a launchpad for operations against Saudi Arabia in the past,” he continued.

“Adding Israel to that list would signal a growing problem that the international community must address. The Commander of CENTCOM has been warning for some time about the difficulties Washington and its allies and partners face in combating armed drones,” Brodsky added.

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