(BAGHDAD) — The Iraqi government is not pleased that the U.S. is flying unmanned surveillance drones over its country.
As first reported in The New York Times, the State Department confirmed that flights occur in an effort to protect as many as 16,000 diplomatic and personnel workers in the U.S. Embassy — the largest such mission in the world.
While the Pentagon withdrew virtually all of its forces out of Iraq at the end of last year, the drones have taken on some of the responsibilities previously assigned to the military.
They are not the same Predator and Reaper drones that are used by the CIA to conduct missions in Pakistan, Yemen and Somalia but unarmed, smaller aircraft with far shorter wingspans.
However, acting Iraqi Interior Minister Adnan al-Asadi was adamant that, “Our sky is our sky, not the USA’s sky.”
What has particularly angered the Iraqis is that they were apparently not consulted about the operations beforehand. Some regard it as a violation of their nation’s sovereignty following more than eight years of foreign occupation.
Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio
Michael Pearson, Faith Karimi and Ian Lee, CNN
Euan McKirdy and Natalie L. Gallón, CNN