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Pentagon confirms that Iran fired upon unmanned drone

By Catholic Online (NEWS CONSORTIUM)
November 9th, 2012
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U.S. defense officials have confirmed that Iranian fighter jets fired on a U.S. drone over the Persian Gulf on November 1st. Pentagon officials stopped short of calling the incident an act of war. The United States has protested to Iran about the incident, which occurred over international waters.

LOS ANGELES, CA (Catholic Online) - Defense Department spokesman George Little says that the MQ-1 unmanned aerial vehicle, commonly known as a Predator drone was on a routine classified mission.

"An unarmed, unmanned MQ 1 US military aircraft conducting routine surveillance over the Arabian Gulf was intercepted by Iranian SU-25 Frogfoot aircraft and was fired upon with guns. The incident occurred over international waters approximately 16 nautical miles [30 kilometers] off the Iranian coastline. The MQ 1 was not hit and returned to its base safely," Little said.

He said the drone was not hit and returned unharmed to its base at an undisclosed location.

A military spokesman said U.S. officials have a "working assumption" that the Iranian jets were not just firing warning shots but fired with the goal of shooting down the drone.

The spokesman said Washington has communicated to Iran that it will continue to conduct drone surveillance flights in international airspace. He added that the United States has a "range of options" to protect its forces in the Middle East.

The United States routinely conducts surveillance missions over to Iran to check on nuclear facilities and other sites.

The event marked the first time Iran has fired on a U.S. drones. Iran claims it shot down an American unmanned aerial vehicle last year over Iranian territory. U.S. officials say that aircraft landed unintentionally.

The president was notified soon after the latest incident. Since confirmation of the incident comes more than week after it happened, reporters asked whether the White House ordered disclosure of it withheld until after last Tuesday's presidential elections had passed.

Little said that the reports were leaked.

"Someone apparently disclosed this in an unauthorized manner, and that's unfortunate," Little said.

Pentagon officials made firm comments to Iran that they are prepared to respond to Iranian aggression. They did not say if they had any plans to retaliate for the incident.

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