BBC NEWS Americas Africa Europe Middle East South Asia Asia Pacific Arabic Spanish Russian Chinese Welsh

 You are in: World: Middle East
Front Page 
Middle East 
South Asia 
From Our Own Correspondent 
Letter From America 
UK Politics 
Talking Point 
In Depth 

Commonwealth Games 2002

BBC Sport

BBC Weather

Tuesday, 28 August, 2001, 11:57 GMT 12:57 UK
Iraq celebrates 'downing' US plane
Iraqi TV pictures of wreckage
Iraqi TV showed what it said was wreckage of the craft
Iraq has been celebrating the downing of a US spy plane.

The country's deputy prime minister Tariq Aziz said that what he described as the shooting down of the aircraft proved that Iraqi air-defences have become more advanced in spite of sanctions.

He said in a television statement: "It is our hope that this sophistication will continue and that we will inflict further losses on the aggressors."

It appears that an unmanned aircraft, a Predator, has not returned from a mission over southern Iraq

Pentagon spokesman

Following the incident one supermarket owner, Mohamed Mekki, said: "God willing we will shoot down more planes.

"[The Americans] won't dare send us more planes because they know we'll shoot them down."

The government press was also in jubilant mood.

'Death zone'

"Iraqi skies are a death zone for the enemy," said Al-Jumhuriya newspaper.

Iraq says it shot down a US reconnaissance aircraft flying over the south of the country on Monday, while the Pentagon admits that one of its unmanned Predator planes is missing.

If confirmed, it would be the first aircraft the Iraqis have shot down in 10 years of enforcing the no-fly zones.

Predator on exercise over the Persian Gulf
US Predator drones are often used for missions in the region

State television broadcast pictures of what it said was the mangled wreckage of the plane with American markings.

The Iraqi News Agency (INA) said the plane was equipped with "high-tech equipment", and was brought down near the southern city of Basra, 550 kilometres (340 miles) south of the capital, Baghdad.

However, the US Central Command countered that no sensitive technology would be compromised by the reported loss of the plane and said there was no plan to recover the aircraft.

Easy target

The Predator drone can fly up to 25,000 feet (8,500 metres) above sea level, but has a top speed of only about 220 km per hour making it a relatively easy target, correspondents say.

In late July, US defence officials said Iraq had narrowly missed hitting the far more advanced high-altitude U-2 spy plane with a modified Russian-built anti-aircraft missile.

In response, US and British planes launched two attacks this month against what Washington said was Iraq's upgraded air defence network.

US nameplate from Iraqi TV video
The TV pictures showed an American nameplate

In 1998 President Saddam Hussein offered a prize of $5,000 to the Iraqi military unit that shoots down an allied warplane and $2,500 for the capture of a US or British pilot.

Meanwhile, the Iraqi army says a civilian has been killed and three others injured in reprisal US-British air strikes on northern Iraq.

From Ankara, the US military confirmed it had bombed northern Iraq on Monday, in response to their planes being fired upon by Iraq.

Western planes patrol two "no-fly zones" in northern and southern Iraq and regularly come under fire from Iraqi defences.

Iraq, which does not recognise the zones, says 353 people have been killed and more than 1,000 injured in raids by the US and Britain since 1998.

The BBC's Tom Carver
"There are no plans to recover the aircraft"
John Nichol, former RAF navigator
"The Iraqis are desperate to [capture] an allied pilot"
See also:

27 Aug 01 | Middle East
Iraq 'shoots down' US spy plane
26 Jul 01 | Middle East
Bush to counter Iraq 'menace'
26 Jul 01 | Middle East
Iraq 'nearly downs' US spy plane
03 Jul 01 | Middle East
Iraq escapes 'smart sanctions'
02 Jul 01 | Middle East
Analysis: Iraq wins sanctions battle
17 Feb 01 | Middle East
Iraq defiant over missile attack
Internet links:

The BBC is not responsible for the content of external internet sites

Links to more Middle East stories are at the foot of the page.

E-mail this story to a friend

Links to more Middle East stories