France intercepted Iranian drones during attack on Israel, calls for restraint

France  Tomer NeubergAP
© Tomer Neuberg/AP

France took part in repelling Iran's attack on Israel Saturday night, shooting down drones over Jordan, President Emmanuel Macron confirmed Monday. He said France would work to avoid any escalation in the Middle East, urging Israel not to retaliate.

French jets at an air force base in Jordan intercepted Iranian drones and missiles over Jordan's air space, "at Jordan's request", Macron said in an interview with BFM TV on Monday.

Israel "managed to stop almost all of these missiles and drones. Only seven drones landed," Macron said, calling the operation a "victory for Israel."

He called Iran's attack, sending more than 300 drones, cruise and ballistic missiles towards Israel, a "disproportionate response" to a strike on the Iranian consulate in Damascus, Syria, earlier this month, which Tehran blamed on Israel.

"Instead of targeting Israeli interests outside Israel, they went after Israel on its soil, and attacked from their own soil, which is a first," he said, calling it a "deep rupture".

Edge of a cliff

However, he said France does not want to see Israel retaliate, and "will do everything to avoid a conflagration" in the region.

Announcing plans to speak with Israeli Prime Minister Bejamin Netanyahu later Monday, Macron said Israel “should not respond by escalating, but rather by isolating Iran, convincing countries in the region that Iran is a danger, increasing sanctions, reinforcing pressure on nuclear activities, and then finding a path to peace in the region".

Iran claimed the attack "achieved all its objectives".

The United States, which Macron tasked with "containing" Iran, has already warned Israel that it would not take part in any retaliatory action.

The European Union's foreign policy chief joined calls for restraint.

"We're on the edge of the cliff and we have to move away from it," Josep Borrell, the EU's High Representative for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy, told the Spanish Onda Cero radio station. "We have to step on the brakes and reverse gear."

(with newswires)