The Middle East has been thrown into further turmoil after Iran launched military strikes on Israel overnight.

Israel said Iran launched 170 drones, more than 30 cruise missiles and more than 120 ballistic missiles early on Sunday.

Rear Admiral Daniel Hagari of the Israel Defence Forces said that none of the drones reached Israel, 25 cruise missiles were shot down by the air force and none entered Israel’s airspace.

He said most of the ballistic missiles were also intercepted.

Here's what you need to know about the latest development.

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What happened?

Overnight Iran launched missiles and drones at targets inside Israel, the first time it has directly attacked the nation.

Though a young girl was seriously injured on an airbase, Israel said that 99% weapons launched were intercepted.

The Royal Air Force assisted in the defence.

A Ministry of Defence spokesman said: “In response to increased Iranian threats and the growing risk of escalation in the Middle East, the UK Government has been working with partners across the region to encourage de-escalation and prevent further attacks.

“We have moved several additional Royal Air Force jets and air refuelling tankers to the region. These will bolster Operation Shader, which is the UK’s existing counter-Daesh operation in Iraq and Syria. In addition, these UK jets will intercept any airborne attacks within range of our existing missions, as required.

“We will continue to cooperate closely with our regional partners in the interest of de-escalation.”

The Herald:

Why did Iran do this?

On April 1 the Iranian embassy in Damascus, Syria was attacked, with the consulate annex destroyed.

Though it has not confirmed it was behind the attack, it's believed the missiles were launched by Israel.

Brigadier General Mohammad Reza Zahedi of the Iranian Revolutionary Guard, seven of his officers and two civilians were killed in the attack.

Diplomatic premises, like homes and schools, are considered "civilian objects" under international law, and they are not permissible as targets unless they are used for a military purpose.

Israel claims the embassy was a "military building of Quds forces disguised as a civilian structure in Damascus".

The Herald: Iranian demonstrators chant slogans during their anti-Israeli gathering in front of the British Embassy in Tehran, IranIranian demonstrators chant slogans during their anti-Israeli gathering in front of the British Embassy in Tehran, Iran (Image: AP Photo/Vahid Salemi)

Could this spark a wider conflict?

It certainly could, but it appears that Iran is leaving space for this to be a one-off.

Tehran was always going to respond, but having now been shown to have reacted cooler heads may prevail.

Even as the strikes were ongoing its permanent mission to the UN wrote on social media: "Iran’s military action was in response to the Zionist regime’s aggression against our diplomatic premises in Damascus. The matter can be deemed concluded. However, should the Israeli regime make another mistake, Iran’s response will be considerably more severe."

There are parallels with the assassination by the United States of major general Qasem Soleimani in 2020.

In that instance, Iran launched retaliatory strikes at several US air bases in the region, with some injuries but no deaths.

With Israel stating that 99% of missiles and drones were intercepted and no deaths reported, if Mr Netanyahu opts not to respond militarily the two nations could go back to a tense stand-off.

The Herald: Joe Biden

What has the response been?

Prime Minister Rishi Sunak condemned “in the strongest terms” Iran’s “reckless attack” as he pledged to “continue to stand up for Israel’s security and that of all our regional partners”, while US President Joe Biden said he would convene a meeting of G7 leaders on Sunday “to co-ordinate a united diplomatic response to Iran’s brazen attack”.

Labour leader Sir Keir Starmer said the party supported all measures “designed to restore calm” and prevent a wider regional war.

In private though Axios has reported that Mr Biden told Mr Netanyahu that the US will not support a counter-attack on Iran.

Referring to the successful interception of almost all of the drones and missiles he is said to have told the Israeli premier: "You got a win. Take the win."

Victoria Atkins has said the UK Government is putting “all of our efforts” into de-escalation in the Middle East, saying no one wants to see a “miscalculation or an escalation.”

It seems everyone is keen to calm things down.