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The BBC's Jim Muir
"Iranian officials staged a news conference at which nine Mujahedeen fighters... denounced the organisation"
 real 28k

Thursday, 19 April, 2001, 17:59 GMT 18:59 UK
Iraq 'shoots down Iranian spy plane'
Iraq map
By Frank Gardner in Cairo

Iraq says it has shot down an unmanned Iranian spy plane or drone north east of Baghdad.

The official Iraqi news agency reported that the plane was shot down on Thursday afternoon.

It comes a day after a series of reported missile attacks by Iran on rebel training camps inside Iraq.

Residents examine missile
Iran is accused of firing missiles into Iraq
Iran and Iraq may have ended their bitter war 13 years ago, but their common border still bristles with conflict.

An Iraqi air defence spokesman was quoted as saying the plane was brought down around 400km (250 miles) north-east of Baghdad.

Scud missiles

It is the latest incident in a low key border conflict that has been simmering on for years.

On Wednesday Iran fired more than 50 scud missiles across the border at camps in Iraq belonging to the Iranian rebel group, the Mujahideen Khalq.

At least two people are reported to have been killed.

That was preceded by a number of attacks in the past few days by the Iraq based rebels on Iranian military posts.

Mutual mistrust

None of these incidents has incurred major casualties amongst either Iraqi or Iranian government troops, but it is an uncomfortable reminder of their eight year war in the 1980s, when both countries fired missiles at each other's cities.

There has been much speculation in recent months that Baghdad and Tehran might be able to form an anti-Western alliance, but there remains a large degree of mutual mistrust.

The fact that both countries accuse each other of sheltering armed opposition groups proves that relations between the two are still far from smooth.

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See also:

20 Dec 00 | Middle East
Timeline: Iran
20 Dec 00 | Country profiles
Country profile: Iran
19 Apr 01 | Country profiles
Country profile: Iraq
07 Dec 00 | Middle East
Timeline: Iraq
29 Sep 00 | Middle East
Unprecedented Iran-Iraq talks
01 Oct 00 | Middle East
Thaw in Iran-Iraq relations continues
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