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U.S. shoots down Iranian drone over Iraq

BAGHDAD — U.S. jets shot down an Iranian unmanned surveillance aircraft last month over Iraqi territory about 60 miles northeast of Baghdad, the U.S. military said Monday.

A U.S. statement said that the Ababil 3 was tracked for about 70 minutes before U.S. jets shot it down "well-inside Iraqi airspace" and that the aircraft's presence over Iraq "was not an accident."

An Iraqi official said the Iranian aircraft went down near the Iraqi border town of Mandali. He spoke to the Associated Press on condition of anonymity because he was not authorized to talk to the media.

The Ababil is believed to have a maximum range of about 90 miles and can fly up to 14,000 feet. It is primarily designed for surveillance and intelligence-gathering.

U.S. officials have frequently accused the Iranians of supplying weapons, training and money to Shiite extremist groups opposed to the U.S. military presence and to the U.S.-backed Iraqi government.

Iran has denied links to militant groups inside Iraq and says the instability there is a result of the U.S. occupation. The Iranians consider the presence of about 140,000 U.S. troops in a neighboring country as a threat to their national security.

Soldier killed: In Baghdad, a U.S. soldier was fatally injured during combat operations Monday, the U.S. military said in a statement. No further details were released.

Girl shot: A 12-year-old girl was killed when U.S. soldiers fired at a vehicle speeding toward them and Iraqi police near Mosul, the U.S. military said. The military said the girl was standing about 100 yards behind the vehicle and was hit by a round. But Iraqi police said the girl was shot while in a car with her father. The discrepancy could not be immediately explained.

U.S. shoots down Iranian drone over Iraq 03/16/09 [Last modified: Monday, March 16, 2009 11:21pm]
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