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July 31, 2014

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Official: Armed drones flying over Baghdad to protect US interests

Image

Maya Alleruzzo / AP

This June 21, 2007, file photo show a MQ-4 Predator drone controlled by the 46th Expeditionary Reconnaissance Squadron stands on the tarmac at Balad Air Base, north of Baghdad, Iraq.

WASHINGTON — A Pentagon official says the U.S. has started flying armed drones over Baghdad to protect U.S. civilians and military forces in the Iraqi capital.

The official said the flights started in the last 24 to 48 hours to bolster manned and unmanned reconnaissance flights the military has been sending over violence-wracked Iraq in recent weeks. He spoke on condition of anonymity because he was not authorized to discuss the new flights on the record.

The official stressed that the armed drones are to provide U.S. protection and that President Barack Obama still has not authorized airstrikes against Sunni militants who have been over-running territory in other parts of the country.

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