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Officials: U.S. drone shot down over southern Iraq

Iraq has stepped up efforts lately to target drones, Pentagon officials say.
Iraq has stepped up efforts lately to target drones, Pentagon officials say.

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WASHINGTON (CNN) -- An unmanned reconnaissance drone was lost over southern Iraq Monday, and it is presumed to have been shot down, U.S. officials told CNN.

The unmanned Predator was reported missing at 7:30 a.m. EST "after being fired upon by Iraqi military aircraft," Gen. Richard Myers, chairman of the joint chiefs of staff, told reporters at the Pentagon.

"They got a lucky shot today and they brought down the Predator," he said.

U.S. officials told CNN that it had been brought down by hostile fire.

But Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld balked at using Myers' description of what happened. "We do not know for sure it's been shot down," he said. "We know we've lost communications with it."

The move does not represent an escalation of hostilities, Myers said. Two other Predators have been shot down over southern Iraq, he said. "They attempt to shoot down all our aircraft."

Officials said the drone was performing a reconnaissance mission when it disappeared from radar.

The drone operates at an altitude as high as 26,000 feet, with a range of 400 nautical miles and can stay aloft for 24 hours.

For the past few weeks, the Iraqis have stepped up their efforts to target the drones, Pentagon sources said.

In Baghdad, an Iraqi Information Ministry spokesman said he had no information about the report.

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