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calendar   Monday - March 16, 2009

U.S. forces shot down Iranian drone over Iraq.

I’D RATHER A NUKE OR TWO ON IRAN BUT OK. I GUESS I’LL HAVE TO SETTLE FOR LESS.

Breaking News

U.S. forces shot down Iranian drone over Iraq

16 mins ago
Reuters Waleed Ibrahim and Missy Ryan

U.S. forces shot down an Iranian drone aircraft that ventured inside Iraq last month, U.S. and Iraqi officials said Monday, an incident that highlights deep U.S.-Iranian tensions. Skip related content

A U.S. military spokesman said that U.S. jet fighters shot down the unmanned Iranian aircraft on February 25 about 60 miles (100 km) northeast of Baghdad.

“The UAV had been tracked by coalition air forces for nearly 1 hour and 10 minutes before it was engaged and shot down well inside Iraqi airspace,” Lieutenant-Colonel Mark Ballesteros said.

“This was not an accident on the part of the Iranians” because of the distance into Iraq the drone flew and how long it stayed, Ballesteros said. The aircraft was believed to be an Iranian “Ababil 3” model drone, he added.

But Major-General Abdul Aziz Mohammed Jassim, head of military operations at the Iraqi Defence Ministry, told Reuters he believed the plane’s entry into Iraq was probably a mistake.

“According to the report received by multinational forces, this drone entered Iraq mistakenly at a point 100 km (60 miles) from Baghdad. It crossed 10 km (6 miles) into Iraq,” he said.

“It’s most likely that its entrance was a mistake.”

The three weeks of silence from U.S., Iraqi and Iranian officials about the unusual incident underscores the sensitive nature of any contact between Iran and the United States.

Iranian officials had no immediate comment on the incident.

The U.S. military has long accused Iran of arming militants and meddling in neighbouring Iraq, where tens of thousands of people have died in sectarian and insurgent violence since the U.S.-led invasion to oust Saddam Hussein in 2003.

But relations between the government of Iraq’s Shi’ite Muslim Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki and Iran, a fellow majority Shi’ite nation, are mostly friendly.

The two countries fought a bloody eight-year war in the 1980s which killed an estimated 1 million people, but ties have warmed since Saddam, a Sunni Muslim, was removed from power.


IRAN’S ROLE IN IRAQ

In recent months, as violence has dropped sharply across Iraq, U.S. officials have spoken less forcefully about Iran’s purported role in Iraq. Tehran denies backing Iraqi militants.

In a shift from the Bush administration, U.S. President Barack Obama, who took office in January, has said he would be open to engaging with Iran on a range of issues, from nuclear ambitions to how Iran might help in Afghanistan.

HERE FOR MORE


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Posted by peiper   United Kingdom  on 03/16/2009 at 04:53 PM   
Filed Under: • Iran •  
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