Iraqi anti-aircraft systems have shot down a US Predator drone, according to claims in Baghdad, confirmed by Pentagon sources.
An unnamed high-ranking Pentagon official has admitted that a pilotless Predator aircraft has been shot down by Iraqi anti-aircraft fire over Southern Iraq. The Iraqi Defence Ministry stated that the incident took place at around 13.00 MSK yesterday and that the aircraft was a predator from the US Air Force, flying from Kuwait.
Baghdad claims that missiles were also fired at USAF and RAF aircraft which were strafing the same area and that these were forced to retreat.
The USA and the United Kingdom imposed no-fly zones over Northern and Southern Iraq after the Gulf War in January/February 1991, claiming that this was to protect the Kurdish rebels in the North and the Shi’ite Moslems in the South against President Hussein’s armed forces.
The Kurds and Shi’ites had been equipped and trained by the USA and were instigated to revolt against the Ba’ath regime of Saddam Hussein after the Gulf War. However, the Iraqi army managed to extricate itself largely intact from the “Mother of all Battles” by not fighting, meaning that the Republican Guard, Iraq’s crack forces, were easily able to contain and defeat the rebellions.
Incidents in the no-fly zones are frequent, with the invading aircraft more and more vulnerable as Iraqi anti-aircraft defence systems are upgraded.
Timothy BANCROFT-HINCHEY PRAVDA.Ru LISBON PORTUGAL