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Iran claims released footage is from downed U.S. drone

By Lateef Mungin, CNN
updated 1:38 PM EST, Thu February 7, 2013
STORY HIGHLIGHTS
  • The footage was released by Iranian state media and placed on YouTube
  • Iran claims it downed the plane in 2011
  • Obama in the past asked for the drone back

(CNN) -- Iran says it has decoded and released footage from a U.S. drone that it downed more than a year ago.

The black and white aerial footage, which Iran claims was from a RQ-170 spy plane, was aired by Iranian news agencies and placed on YouTube.

A man, identified in Iranian media as Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps Brig. Gen. Amir Ali Hajizadeh, narrates parts of the footage.

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"This aircraft has carried out many operations in the countries around Iran," the narrator says. "In the operations taken place in Pakistan, this aircraft guided many of the clashes ..."

The narrator also says that some of the footage shows the drone near Kandahar Airfield in southern Afghanistan.

CNN can not independently verify the authenticity of the video. Also CNN could not immediately reach Pentagon officials for comment.

Iran had said it downed the drone on December 4, 2011, near Kashmar in the country's northeast, some 225 kilometers (140 miles) from the border with Afghanistan.

A dangerous new world of drones

At the time, U.S. officials acknowledged that the drone was missing and President Barack Obama asked Iran to return it.

"We've asked for it back. We'll see how the Iranians respond," Obama said later that month.

At the time, Iranian military officials vowed not to return the plane.

This claim from Tehran comes at the same time that the U.S. drone program is being heavily debated in Washington.

John Brennan, Obama's pick to head the CIA, has been one of the architects of the drone campaign against al Qaeda and its allies for the past four years.

Senators will get to grill on him Thursday at his confirmation hearing.

Also Thursday, the Senate Intelligence Committee will receive a classified drone policy document that seeks to justify the administration's policy of targeting Americans overseas via drone attacks, a topic that has stirred controversies recently.

CNN's Samson Desta, John Raedler, Yousuf Basil and Neda Farshbaf contributed to this report.

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