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Obama downplays use of US drones in Iraq

[ 2012-02-01 15:50]     字号 [] [] []  
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US President Barack Obama downplayed a recent report about the use of US drones in Iraq, indicating that the unmanned aircraft are mainly used for embassy surveillance.

Obama said during an online event on Monday that a New York Times story citing Iraqi officials as expressing outrage over the use of US drones following last year's troop withdrawal was "a little overwritten".

"The truth of the matter is we're not engaging in a bunch of drone attacks inside of Iraq," Obama said.

During the event, hosted by Google+ and YouTube, Obama said that there's some surveillance to make sure that the US embassy compound is protected.

In the same interview, Obama confirmed for the first time that US drones had targeted Taliban and al-Qaida militants on Pakistani soil, a program that has escalated under his administration.

"For the most part, they've been very precise precision strikes against al-Qaida and their affiliates, and we're very careful in terms of how it's been applied," Obama said.

He went on and said that the strikes are "a targeted, focused effort at people who are on a list of active terrorists, who are trying to go in and harm Americans, hit American facilities, American bases."

He said that many strikes were carried out "on al-Qaida operatives in places where the capacities of that military in that country may not be able to get them", such as Pakistan's lawless tribal zone.

"For us to be able to get them in another way would involve probably a lot more intrusive military action than the ones we're already engaging in,” Obama said.

The Times report said the State Department began operating some drones in Iraq last year on a trial basis and stepped up their use after the last US troops left the country in December, ending the nine-year conflict.

The State Department drones carry no weapons and are meant to provide data and images of possible hazards, like public protests or roadblocks, to security forces on the ground, it said.


1. What did US President Barack Obama say that the US drones were mainly used for?

2. What did Obama confirm for the first time?

3. When did the last US troops leave Iraq?


1. Embassy surveillance.

2. That US drones had targeted Taliban and al-Qaida militants on Pakistani soil.

3. December.

(中国日报网英语点津 Rosy 编辑)

Obama downplays use of US drones in Iraq

About the broadcaster:

Obama downplays use of US drones in Iraq

Emily Cheng is an editor at China Daily. She was born in Sydney, Australia and graduated from the University of Sydney with a degree in Media, English Literature and Politics. She has worked in the media industry since starting university and this is the third time she has settled abroad - she interned with a magazine in Hong Kong 2007 and studied at the University of Leeds in 2009.