TEHRAN — Iranian forces scrambled warplanes in response to six separate mock intrusions by enemy aircraft during air defence drills this week, the spokesman for the exercise was quoted as saying on Wednesday.
"General Hamid Arjangi said... that Iranian forces have identified the mock intrusion of six 'unknown planes,' into the country's airspace" on Tuesday as part of the scenario for the five-day manoeuvres, the website of Iran's English-language Press TV reported.
The website described as "distorting" the handling by Western media of an earlier report of Arjangi's comments by the Fars news agency which did not make clear that the intrusions were mock elements of the exercise.
"Yesterday (Tuesday) our forces reported intrusion of six unknown planes into our space, prompting us to fly our jet fighters and carry out interception operations," Fars quoted Arjangi as saying.
"Also our artillery systems were alerted, targets were identified and pursued and necessary warnings were given," it quoted him as saying.
Tehran launched the latest air defence exercise on Tuesday amid a persistent standoff with the West over its controversial nuclear programme.
Similar drills have already been carried out at Iran's nuclear facilities in Fordo, Tehran, Natanz, Bushehr and Isfahan, Press TV quoted senior commander Ahmad Mighani as saying on Sunday.
The United States and its ally Israel have not ruled out a military strike to prevent Iran from acquiring nuclear weapons, prompting threats of a crushing response.
But on Tuesday US Defence Secretary Robert Gates said military action would not stop Iran's nuclear programme and, instead, would make it more "covert."
He saud military action would offer only a "short-term solution" to the problem.
Iran regularly conducts military exercises to show off its military prowess and test-fire home-made missiles.
Following the latest package of UN sanctions on Iran, Russia refused to deliver long sought-after S-300 ground-to-air missiles.
But a senior military figure said last week that Iran would soon test its own version of the S-300. It was unclear if that would be during the current war games.
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