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Prime Minister Justin Trudeau condemns Iran's attacks on Israel

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OTTAWA -

Canada "unequivocally condemns" Iran's attacks on Israel, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said Saturday evening as tensions boiled over between the two countries and pushed the Middle East closer to a region-wide war.

Trudeau's statement came after Iran's state-run media announced Tehran had fired ballistic missiles at targets inside Israel on Saturday in what was Iran's first direct military attack on the country.

"These attacks demonstrate yet again the Iranian regime's disregard for peace and stability in the region. We support Israel's right to defend itself and its people from these attacks," Trudeau said at a Parliamentary press gallery dinner.

He said he's getting regular updates from the national security and intelligence adviser, the chief of the defence staff and the chief of the Privy Council.

Israel also reported that Iran had fired more than 100 bomb-carrying drones in its direction.

U.S. officials, speaking on the condition of anonymity, said they downed some of the missiles that were en route.

Israel closed its airspace Saturday in anticipation of Iran's attacks and by early Sunday, booms and air-raid sirens sounded across the country.

The Israeli military's spokesman, Rear Adm. Daniel Hagari, said Iran fired scores of drones, cruise missiles and ballistic missiles -- with the vast majority intercepted outside Israel's borders. He said warplanes intercepted over 10 cruise missiles alone, also outside Israeli airspace.

He said a handful managed to land in Israel.

Conflict between the two countries heightened after an airstrike blamed on Israel destroyed Iran's consulate in Syria and killed two Iranian generals. Tehran vowed revenge.

Foreign Affairs Minister Melanie Joly said Friday that Canadians should avoid all travel to Israel in light of the elevated risk.

She said Canadians who remain in Israel should leave "by commercial means."

Opposition Leader Pierre Poilievre said Saturday that Canada must work with allies to hold Iran accountable.

"The Government of Canada must immediately ban the Tehran-controlled terrorist group, IRGC, to protect our people and stop the regime from using our country to raise funds, plan and co-ordinate," he said in a written statement.

The federal government has faced pressure in recent months to designate the IRGC -- the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps, a branch of Iran's military -- as a terrorist organization.

NDP member of Parliament Heather McPherson, who serves as her party's foreign affairs critic, said Canadians "are worried about the human cost of a regional war."

"Only diplomacy will solve this. Canada and the international community must de-escalate this crisis now," she wrote on X, formerly Twitter.

International condemnation of Iran's escalation has been swift, with the United Nations secretary-general calling for "an immediate cessation of these hostilities."

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

"Israel will continue to defend itself against hostile attacks from Iran and all of its proxies in the region. Iran is attempting to disrupt regional stability and we thank our allies for their support as these events unfold," Iddo Moed said in a statement.

Meanwhile, Air Canada announced that it had cancelled its Saturday flight to Tel Aviv. The airline operates four non-stop return flights per week from Toronto to Tel Aviv. The next one is scheduled for Monday.

"We have also put in place a flexible rebooking policy for customers and will continue to monitor the situation in ... the region and adjust our schedule accordingly," a spokesperson said in a statement.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published April 13, 2024.

By Nicole Thompson in Toronto

With files from The Associated Press

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