US says it shot down an Iranian drone

Ababil surveillance aircraft said to have been intercepted by US jets "well-inside Iraqi airspace."

uav ababil iranian 248 88 (photo credit: Courtesy [file])
uav ababil iranian 248 88
(photo credit: Courtesy [file])
US jets shot down an Iranian unmanned surveillance aircraft last month over Iraqi territory about 60 miles northeast of Baghdad, the US military said Monday. A US statement said the Ababil 3 was tracked for about 70 minutes before US 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 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. US officials have frequently accused the Iranians of supplying weapons, training and money to Shi'ite extremist groups opposed to the US military presence and to the US-backed Iraqi government. Iran has denied links to militant groups inside Iraq and says the instability in this country is a result of the US "occupation." The Iranians consider the presence of about 140,000 US troops in a neighboring country as a threat to their national security.