The Pentagon this week confirmed that one of its drones crashed in Iraq, after photos of the uncrewed aircraft began circulating on social media. In a statement to BuzzFeed News, a Pentagon spokesperson said the MQ-1C Gray Eagle drone crashed on June 16th as it was returning to base, adding that "technical complications caused a loss of communications."
Freelance journalist Steve Ishak tells BuzzFeed that he received photos of the crashed aircraft taken in a government-controlled desert region, near the southern city of Samawah. Activist Steven Nabil posted photos of the $21 million drone to his Twitter account, including a selfie taken directly in front of it.
The drone, which was unarmed, was conducting surveillance and gathering intelligence in the region, The Hill reports, citing a Pentagon spokesperson. The US has deployed surveillance and armed drones across Iraq and Syria, as part of its ongoing military campaign against the Islamic State. A military drone crashed in southern Iraq in May due to technical problems, two months after an Air Force drone was shot down in Syria.
Photos of the drone that crashed this month show no signs that it was shot down. A spokesman for the Defense Department said the military is working with Iraqi authorities to recover the craft.
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