Report: U.S. halts some drone strikes

Dec. 24, 2011 at 1:04 AM
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WASHINGTON, Dec. 24 (UPI) -- The CIA has suspended some drone missile strikes in Pakistan, in a move intended to improve relations between Washington and Islamabad, U.S. officials say.

Citing current and former U.S. officials, the Los Angeles Times reported Friday the CIA suspended some drone missile strikes on suspected militants more than five weeks ago. The suspension involves strikes on gatherings of low-level targets suspected of involvement in attacks on U.S. troops and other interests in Afghanistan, the officials said.

Relations between the United States and Pakistan have been adversely affected by a series of incidents, including the death of 24 Pakistani soldiers last month in an errant attack by U.S. gunships. CIA drone missile strikes since 2004 have killed dozens of al-Qaida operatives and hundreds of low-level figures, but have also caused anger and resentment among Pakistanis, the report said.

Citing State Department and National Security Council officials, the newspaper said claims of civilian casualties from strikes in Pakistan -- claims that are disputed by Washington -- have contributed to destabilizing the Pakistani government, a U.S. ally.

Some U.S. intelligence officials say the CIA should de-emphasize a post-Sept. 11, 2001, paramilitary stance and return its main focus to espionage, the Times reported.

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