Pentagon Claims Another Iraqi Attempt to Shoot Down US Warplane
The United States and Iraq continue to trade charges over US Air Force incursions into Iraqi airspace, with the Pentagon reporting on Thursday that the Arab state had once again tried to shoot down a US warplane.
The Pentagon reported last week that Iraq fired a surface-to-air missile into Kuwaiti airspace in an attempt to down a US Navy E-2C "Hawkeye" surveillance aircraft on routine patrol several miles inside the Kuwaiti border with Iraq, said reports.
The missile fired last Thursday at the E-2C missed by a mile, according to the pilot's report, cited by CNN.com.
In the latest incident, Pentagon sources said a high-altitude missile -- such as an SA-2 or SA-3 -- came close enough to the slow, high-flying U-2 that the US pilot felt the shock wave from the explosion, which occurred an undetermined distance below the plane.
There was no damage to the US Air Force U-2, which was patrolling over the southern no-fly zone in Iraq at the time of the incident.
On July 21, Pentagon officials said their "best guess" was that Iraq had fired a surface-to-air missile at a US aircraft patrolling above Kuwait, allegedly the first time Baghdad has fired outside their own airspace since the 1991 Gulf War.
The missile failed to hit the US target, and American patrols were continuing normally, a Pentagon official said at the time.
The northern and southern no-fly zones were imposed with the ostensible goal of protecting Kurdish and Shiite groups against attacks from Iraqi forces. Baghdad does not recognize the zones and has repeatedly defied US and British forces patrolling them by air.
The decade-long US-UK imposed zones are not mandated by a UN Security Council resolution.
In a related development, Iraq said on Monday that its anti-aircraft system hit an "enemy" US or British plane flying over the northern exclusion zone, but the Pentagon denied the claim, said AFP.
Iraq's air defense system "repulsed the enemy aircraft, which were raiding the Dohuk, Erbil and Niniv provinces," an Iraqi military official said, cited by the agency.
"Indications are that one of the planes was hit."
But the claim was denied by Lt. Col. Catherine Abbott, a Pentagon spokeswoman, who said, "There is no truth to the report." – Albawaba.com
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