CNN Security Clearance

By Tim Lister, CNN

It seems they are everywhere, from the foothills of the Himalayas to the vast tracts of the Sahara, searching the terrain and seas below like glinting birds of prey. Drones have become the emblem of war and intelligence-gathering in the 21st century.

And for the first time, Iran has tried to bring down a U.S. drone as it flew off the Iranian coastline in the northern Persian Gulf.

The United States says Iranian jets fired on an unarmed MQ-1 Predator on November 1 while it was on a routine surveillance mission above international waters. The Defense Department said the drone was 16 miles from the Iranian coast.

« The internationally recognized territorial limit is 12 nautical miles off the coast, and we never entered the 12 nautical-mile limit, » said George Little, Pentagon spokesman, on Thursday.

Given the tensions between the two governments, the Predator’s exact position…

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