Baghdad, Mar.17 (ANI): American warplanes shot down an unmanned Iranian aircraft last month as it flew over Iraq, U.S. and Iraqi officials said Monday.
The U.S. military said it had tracked the drone for about an hour and 10 minutes before shooting it down February 25 about 60 miles northeast of the capital, Baghdad, the Washington Post reports.
"This was not an accident on the part of the Iranians," the military said.
U.S. military officials in Washington, speaking on the condition of anonymity because of the sensitivity of the subject, said they could not recall the United States ever before publicly acknowledging the downing of an unmanned Iranian aircraft.
The incident comes at a delicate time in Iranian-U.S. relations, which have grown strained at times over allegations that Iran has supported groups fighting American troops here.
In a departure from Bush administration policy, President Obama has said he would be open to engaging Iran, which borders both Iraq and Afghanistan.
Officials at Iraq''s Defense and Interior ministries confirmed the U.S. military report. An official at the Interior Ministry, speaking on the condition of anonymity, said the drone was downed about 12 miles inside Iraqi territory near the town of Balad Ruz in Diyala province.
He said the U.S. military had suggested to Iraqi officials that the drone was trying to scout routes to smuggle Iranian weapons into the country.
Iranian officials have not commented on the downing of the aircraft, which the Pentagon identified as an Ababil 3. (ANI)