Iran says downed US drone was deep in its airspace

The stealth-version of the RQ-170 drone was detected by Iranian forces over the eastern town of Kashmar.

Last Updated: Dec 07, 2011, 18:25 PM IST

Tehran: The unmanned US spy plane was deep
inside Iran`s airspace, flying over an eastern town famous for
Persian carpets and saffron when it was downed by Iranian
armed forces, state radio reported on Wednesday.

The report said the stealth-version of the RQ-170 drone
was detected by Iranian forces over the eastern town of
Kashmar, some 225 kilometres from the border with Afghanistan.

"The US smart plane was captured by Iranian anti-aircraft
units somewhere in the sky over Kashmar in the east of the
country," the radio said.

It did not speculate as to why the drone flew over the
town, which lies in an agricultural area known for the
production of saffron and Persian carpets.

The radio added that Iran will "soon" broadcast video
footage of the downed drone.

Iran first reported the downing on Sunday but did not say
when the incident happened. At the time, the official IRNA
news agency said Iran`s armed forces had shot it down a claim
later rejected by US officials who said the drone crashed over
the weekend but that there was no indication it had been shot
down.

Meanwhile, US officials, speaking on condition of
anonymity to discuss classified information, have said the
drone had spied on Iran for years from a US air base in
Afghanistan.

According to these officials, the US built up the air
base in Shindad, Afghanistan, with an eye to keeping a
long-term presence there to launch surveillance missions and
even special operations missions into Iran if deemed
necessary.

The RQ-170 known as the Sentinel has been used in
Afghanistan for several years. It gained notoriety earlier
this year when officials disclosed that one was used to keep
watch on Osama bin Laden`s compound in Pakistan as the raid
that killed him was taking place.

Bureau Report

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