Predator missions increase in Iraq

April 29, 2008 at 11:49 AM

BAGHDAD, April 29 (UPI) -- The number of missions conducted by unmanned aerial Predator drones over Iraq doubled as fighting intensified in Baghdad's Sadr City, analysts say.

The U.S. military ordered 11 Predator missions against targets in Iraq in April, nearly twice the amount the previous month, USA Today said Tuesday.

U.S. Defense Secretary Robert Gates pressured U.S. Air Force officials to move more drones into the region last week, coinciding with a spike in violence in Iraq and increased attacks on the fortified Green Zone housing Iraqi and U.S. officials.

Military and private analysts praise the use of drones in combat space as a way to limit civilian and troop casualties. They boast great precision and a long range of operations, with soldiers guiding the drones in Iraq from bases in the United States.

The drones go "beyond limiting the risk of casualties to U.S. troops," said Michael O'Hanlon with the Brookings Institution. "It's the immediate response. If we were able to do more effectively with people on the streets, we'd do it."

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