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Iran's Downing of U.S. Stealth Drone Rattles Washington

Source: Mehr News Agency, Tehran

U.S. military officials have expressed concern over news reports that Iran recently downed a U.S. spy drone that had violated the country's airspace.

An RQ-170 unmanned U.S. drone
An RQ-170 unmanned U.S. drone

On Sunday, an unidentified Iranian military source said that the Armed Forces of the Islamic Republic had downed a U.S. drone along the country's eastern border, the Fars News Agency reported.

"An advanced RQ-170 unmanned American spy plane was shot down by Iran's armed forces. It suffered minor damage and is now in possession of Iran's armed forces," the source said, according to Fox News.

The official also stated that Iran would give a crushing response to any violation of its airspace, saying the response "will not be limited to the country's borders."

It was the first time an RQ-170 Sentinel was lost by the United States, according to AP.

According to the Washington Post, the RQ-170 drone has been used by the CIA for highly sensitive missions into other nations' airspace, including months of surveillance of the compound in Pakistan in which Al-Qaeda leader Osama bin Laden was allegedly hiding before he was killed in an attack by Special Operations forces on May 1, 2011.

The International Security Assistance Force in Afghanistan issued a statement on Sunday saying that the downed drone "may be a U.S. unarmed reconnaissance aircraft that had been flying a mission over western Afghanistan late last week. The operators of the UAV (unmanned aerial vehicle) lost control of the aircraft and had been working to determine its status," the Washington Post reported.

On Monday, U.S. military officials said that they are concerned that Tehran may now have an opportunity to acquire information about the classified surveillance drone program, AP reported.

"I think we're always concerned when there's an aircraft, whether it's manned or unmanned, that we lose, particularly in a place where we're not able to get to it," Navy Capt. John Kirby, a Pentagon spokesman, told reporters on Monday.

model of RQ-170 unmanned U.S. drone
RQ-170 drone

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