BAGHDAD, Iraq – Iraqis were jubilant Monday over Iraq’s claim it had shot down a U.S. reconnaissance plane, and Deputy Prime Minister Tariq Aziz pledged that his country would inflict more losses on U.S. and British forces.
“God willing we will shoot down more planes,” supermarket owner Mohanad Mekki said. “(Americans) won’t dare send us more planes because they know we’ll shoot them down.”
The state-run Iraqi News Agency said the aircraft was shot down in the morning near the southern city of Basra, 340 miles south of Baghdad. The plane, according to INA, contained “high-tech equipment” and was “inside Iraqi skies on a spy mission.”
State-run television showed footage of what it claimed was the downed aircraft reduced to twisted piles of scorched wreckage. Pieces of equipment were scattered around in a desert area. “U.S. Navy Prop” was written on one part of the aircraft.
In Washington, two U.S. defense officials said a Predator unmanned aircraft was missing and believed lost on a mission near Basra.
“This admission, that Iraq forced U.S. officials to make, comes despite their arrogance … and conceit over the advanced, destructive technology that they own and use every day against Iraq and its patient people,” INA said.
Aziz said his country “is determined to inflict more losses on the U.S. and British aggressors and to develop its capabilities despite the unjust embargo imposed on it,” INA reported.
On the streets of Baghdad people expressed pride at what their military had done.
Less than two hours after the aircraft was allegedly shot down, U.S. and British warplanes flying from bases in Turkey attacked Iraqi “civil and service installations,” killing one civilian and injuring three others, an unidentified Iraqi military spokesman told INA.
In 1998, President Saddam Hussein offered a prize of $5,000 to the Iraqi military unit that shoots down an allied warplane and $2,500 for the capture of a U.S. or British pilot.
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