The Iranian attack poses the risk of “uncontrollable regional escalation,” warn the G7 countries


OTTAWA – Iran's weekend attack on Israel represents another step toward destabilizing the Middle East and risks triggering “uncontrollable regional escalation,” leaders from Canada and the other G7 countries said Sunday after a video conference

OTTAWA – Iran's weekend attack on Israel represents another step toward destabilizing the Middle East and risks triggering “uncontrollable regional escalation,” leaders of Canada and the other G7 nations said Sunday after a video conference.

Leaders of the Group of Seven advanced democracies unequivocally “strongly” condemned Iran’s decision to attack Israel with hundreds of drones and missiles, calling it a “direct and unprecedented attack.”

With the help of allies, Israel largely managed to thwart the barrage, which caused minimal damage.

“We express our full solidarity and support for Israel and its people and reaffirm our commitment to their security,” said the G7 leaders’ statement, released by Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s office.

“We will continue to work to stabilize the situation and prevent further escalation. “In this spirit, we demand that Iran and its proxies cease their attacks, and we stand ready to take further action now and in response to further destabilizing initiatives.”

U.S. President Joe Biden said earlier he would convene the meeting to coordinate a joint diplomatic response to an attack he described as brazen.

Iran has fired around 300 missiles and drones at targets inside Israel, but Israeli officials say the country and its allies were able to intercept about 99 percent of them. Iran has now declared the operation over.

Defense Minister Bill Blair said Sunday on X, formerly Twitter, that he was receiving regular updates from the Canadian Armed Forces and would “continue to monitor the situation closely.”

Canada's political parties were united in condemning Iran after the night offensive.

Trudeau said Canada condemned the attack in a region already embroiled in a six-month war between Israel and Hamas.

“These attacks once again demonstrate the Iranian regime’s disregard for peace and stability in the region,” Trudeau said in a statement released shortly after the offensive began. “We support Israel’s right to defend itself and its people from these attacks.”

The conflict between Israel and Iran intensified after an Israeli airstrike destroyed the Iranian consulate in Syria and killed two Iranian generals. Tehran vowed revenge.

Israel closed its airspace on Saturday in anticipation of Iranian attacks, and booms and airstrike sirens sounded across the country early Sunday.

Israeli military spokesman Rear Admiral Daniel Hagari said Iran fired dozens of drones, cruise missiles and ballistic missiles – the vast majority were intercepted outside Israel's borders. He said fighter jets had intercepted over 10 cruise missiles alone, including outside Israeli airspace.

In Washington, Biden said U.S. forces had helped Israel repel “almost all” drones and missiles. British Prime Minister Rishi Sunak said the British Air Force shot down several Iranian drones.

Israel and Iran have been on a collision course throughout Israel's war against Hamas militants in Gaza.

In the Oct. 7 attack that sparked the current conflict, Iran-backed Hamas and Islamic Jihad militants in Israel killed 1,200 people and kidnapped 250 others. The subsequent Israeli offensive in Gaza caused widespread devastation and killed over 33,000 people, according to local health authorities.

In their statement, the G7 leaders said they would strengthen cooperation to end the crisis, including by working toward an “immediate and lasting ceasefire,” releasing Hamas hostages and providing increased humanitarian assistance to needy Palestinians.

Ottawa has been under pressure in recent months to designate the IRGC – the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps, a branch of the Iranian military – as a terrorist organization.

Conservative leader Pierre Poilievre called on Canada to work with allies to hold Iran accountable.

“The Canadian government must immediately ban the Tehran-controlled terrorist group IRGC to protect our people and deter the regime from using our land for fundraising, planning and coordination,” he said in a written statement released Saturday.

NDP leader Jagmeet Singh condemned the “serious escalation that the Iranian attack on Israel represents.”

“So many innocent people have been killed in the region – this is unacceptable,” Singh wrote on X. “Canada must do everything in its power to de-escalate the situation.”

International criticism of the Iranian attack quickly grew, with the United Nations Secretary-General calling for “an immediate cessation of these hostilities.”

Israel's ambassador to Canada thanked Trudeau and Foreign Minister Mélanie Joly for their words of support.

“Israel will continue to defend itself against hostile attacks by Iran and all its proxies in the region. Iran is seeking to disrupt regional stability and we thank our allies for their support during these events,” Iddo Moed said in a statement.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published April 14, 2024.

– With files from Nicole Thompson in Toronto and The Associated Press

Jim Bronskill, The Canadian Press