Downed drone may belong to US: NATO

Downed drone may belong to US: NATO

Downed drone may belong to US: NATO

An unmanned US drone flies over Kandahar Air Field in this file photo. Iran’s military says it shot down the US drone as NATO stated it may belong to the US. AP photo

A drone reportedly shot down Dec. 4 by Iran may belong to the United States, NATO has said even as a U.S. official said Washington had no indication a drone had crashed in the Islamic republic.

The NATO-led military force in Afghanistan said the drone “may” belong to the U.S. “The UAV [unmanned aerial vehicle] to which the Iranians are referring may be a U.S. unarmed reconnaissance aircraft that had been flying a mission over western Afghanistan late last week,” the International Security Assistance Force (ISAF) said, Reuters reported. “The operators of the UAV lost control of the aircraft and have been working to determine its status,” it added.

Washington, however, discounted the possibility. “There is absolutely no indication, up to this point, that Iranians shot down this drone,” the U.S. official said on condition of anonymity.

In Tehran, state television quoted a military source as saying Iran’s military had shot down the U.S. reconnaissance drone aircraft in eastern Iran.

Iran’s military said it shot down the U.S. army drone inside its territory near the Afghan and Pakistani borders Dec. 4, and threatened to retaliate for the violation of its airspace. Quoting a military source from within Iran’s Joint Chiefs of Staff, Iran’s Al-Alam Arabic language satellite channel said late Dec. 4 that a RQ-170 unmanned aerial vehicle was shot down “a few hours ago,” Agence France-Presse reported.

The Fars news agency, which has close ties to the Revolutionary Guards responsible for Iran’s air defense and ballistic missile systems, said the drone had made an incursion into Iran’s eastern airspace.