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Friday, 25 October, 2002, 14:15 GMT 15:15 UK
US admits using drones over Iraq
The United States Defence Department has confirmed for the first time that it is using armed pilotless aircraft to attack targets which threaten American and British patrols over southern Iraq.

It says the drones - known as Predators - carry missiles which are used to attack a range of targets if Western coalition planes come under fire while enforcing the flight exclusion zone there.

The chairman of the US Joint Chiefs of Staff, General Richard Myers, said the advantage of the Predators was that they could loiter for long periods, and respond immediately if they spotted missiles or anti-aircraft guns threatening coalition planes on patrol.

The BBC Pentagon correspondent says armed Predators were first used by the CIA in Afghanistan to try to target senior al-Qaeda and Taleban leaders.

The Pentagon insists they are being used in Iraq purely to deal with air defence targets.

From the newsroom of the BBC World Service

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