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Report: Iranian fears of Israeli attack led to military mishaps

October 3, 2012 | 9:14 am

Israeli air force jets during a rehearsal for Israel's Independence Day over the president's residence in Jerusalem on April 16, 2010. Photo by REUTERS/Baz Ratner

Israeli air force jets during a rehearsal for Israel's Independence Day over the president's residence in Jerusalem on April 16, 2010. Photo by REUTERS/Baz Ratner

Iranian fears of an Israeli airstrike on its nuclear facilities reportedly led the Iranian military to mistakenly fire on civilian airplanes and its own military aircraft several years ago.

The 2007 and 2008 attacks, in which the civilian aircraft were fired on and intercepted by Iranian fighter jets, were documented in a classified U.S. intelligence report from 2008 titled “Operational Mishaps by Air Defense Units," The New York Times reported Wednesday. The newspaper said that a new book recently examined the report.

The Iranian military reportedly became nervous after Israel bombed a nuclear reactor under construction in Syria in September 2007, and after Israel held a major air exercise over the Mediterranean the following year that looked like it was simulating an attack on Iran's Natanz uranium enrichment plant.

At least four civilian airliners were fired on by Iranian air defense units in 2007 and 2008, as was an Iranian F-14 fighter jet. The Iranian military also began training for an attack on Israel using firing ranges that resembled the northern Israeli city of Haifa and the Dimona nuclear facility, according to the report.

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