2nd Drone Down Over Iraq

The state-run Iraqi News Agency claims this is the remains of a U.S. pilotless reconnaissance plane Iraq shot down near the southern city of Basra, 340 miles south of Baghdad Monday Aug. 27, 2001. In Washington, U.S. defense officials said that a Predator unmanned aircraft was missing and believed lost on a mission near Basra.
Iraq has shot down a U.S. spy plane near the southern Iraqi city of Basra, the state-run Iraqi News Agency reported Tuesday.

"Iraqi air defenses have shot down a U.S. spy plane," the news agency said, without citing sources or providing further details.

Maj. Brett Morris, spokesman for a U.S.-British military task force in the Gulf, said the coalition force had lost an unmanned aircraft Tuesday similar to a U.S. spy plane lost last month.

"There was no manned flight today (Tuesday), but we have lost contact with our unmanned observation aircraft," Morris said.

"There is an investigation going on ... with regard to the Predator's disappearance," he added. "We are working with the assumption that the plane has gone and are trying to figure out why it went down and how it went down."

Morris said the plane took off early Tuesday for southeastern Iraq. The unmanned aircraft, which is controlled from land, disappeared later Tuesday morning while patrolling in the area, he said.

On Aug. 27, Iraq claimed to shoot down a Predator unmanned reconnaissance plane in the Basra area, 350 miles south of the capital, Baghdad. The U.S. Defense Department acknowledged losing a plane in that area, but said it was unsure whether it had been hit by hostile fire or had crashed on its own.

Iraq said Monday that eight civilians were killed in a weekend airstrike by U.S. and British warplanes on southern Iraq.

The Pentagon gave no word of casualties.

The official Iraqi News Agency said three others were wounded in the strike Sunday night in the al-Salhiya area of Wasit province, 100 miles south of Baghdad.

The Pentagon said Sunday U.S. and British warplanes had attacked three surface-to-air missile sites in Iraq's southern "no-fly" zone as part of a campaign to disable Baghdad's air defenses.

A Pentagon official said three separate strikes occurred between 11 a.m. EDT and 1:30 p.m. EDT. All U.S. aircraft returned safely to their bases, the Pentagon said in a statement.

In London, a defense ministry spokesman said Monday that the aircraft had attacked military targets, and that the dead and wounded were Iraqi soldiers.

"As we understand, there were six dead and five injured, but if news is coming of out Baghdad that there were eight civilian dead that is not correct. ... They were military targets," the spokesman said.

INA, citing eyewitnesses, said the U.S. and British warplanes launched their attack Sunday at a time when some people in the farming district were about to say their midday prayers and others were shopping in a local market.

"This act reflects hatred harbored by America, Britain and Zionism (Israel) against proud Iraq under the leadership of President Saddam Hussein, who foiled their vicious schemings against Iraq and its people," the agency said.

It said the raid also damaged shops in the area.

A Pentagon official said in Washington that U.S. Air Force F-16s, Navy F-18s and British Tornado GR-4 aircraft ha hit missile sites near al-Numinayah, al-Kut, and Tallil, all southeast of Baghdad.

The Navy jets were based aboard the U.S. aircraft carrier "Carl Vinson," stationed in the Gulf. Defense officials declined to say from which nearby country the Air Force and British jets flew their missions.

The Iraqi agency accused "traitors" in Saudi Arabia and Kuwait, referring to the two countries' rulers, of taking part in the attack by providing bases for U.S. and British jets to patrol the no-fly zone in southern Iraq.

The two countries' aircraft use a Turkish base to patrol another no-fly zone in northern Iraq. The two zones were set up after the 1991 Gulf War to protect a Kurdish enclave in the north and Shi'ite Muslims in the south from possible attacks by Baghdad's forces.

Four previous attacks have been launched against air defenses in southern Iraq since Aug. 25.

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