Iranian fears over a possible Israeli strike on its nuclear facilities in 2008 led to a series of air defense mishaps, including firing on a civilian airliner and one of its military aircraft, the New York Times reported on Wednesday.
The report quotes classified American intelligence documents which reveal numerous accidents, including the mistaken use of surface-to-air missiles on civilian airliners.
During those years, tension in Israel and the United States was mounting over Iran’s nuclear program, and a possible Israeli or U.S. military response was increasingly prevalent in public discourse.
According to the New York Times, the heavily classified Pentagon report stated that “Iranian air defense units have taken inappropriate actions dozens of times, including firing antiaircraft artillery and scrambling aircraft against unidentified or misidentified targets.”
The report also cited concerns that due to inadequate training and communications within Iran’s military, “misidentification of aircraft will continue.”
The series of mistakes by the Iranian air force led to a highly classified 2008 Pentagon report on “Operational Mishaps by Air Defense Units,” according to the New York Times.
In September 2007, according to foreign reports, Israeli aircraft attacked a nuclear reactor under construction in northeast Syria.
In 2008, Israel engaged in a comprehensive air exercise over the Mediterranean, which appeared to be a simulation of a possible attack on facilities in Natanz, where the Islamic Republic is said to be enriching uranium.
According to the New York Times, the classified Pentagon report stated that Iranian air defense units were on high alert, and feared that enemy aircraft could attempt to pose as civilian airliners.
According to the classified information, Iran’s Revolutionary Guard fired a TOR-M1 surface to-air-missile at a civilian airliner in June 2007.
The following year, in May and June 2008, Iranian antiaircraft batteries fired on yet another civilian airliner, as well as an Iranian reconnaissance drone, and one of Iran’s own F14 fighter jets.
The New York Times’ report also mentioned that in June 2008, Iran scrambled an F-4 fighter jet to investigate what turned out to be an Iraqi Airways flight from Baghdad to Tehran, according to the Pentagon’s information.
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