BAGHDAD, March 31, (Xinhua) -- Iraq began using pilotless aircraft to control its borders as part of a security control endeavor when U.S. and British troops start to pull out, the Interior Ministry said here Tuesday.
The pilotless aircraft, started its missions two weeks ago, would police all Iraq's borders, which exceed 3,600 km, the ministry spokesman Major-General Abdul Karim Khalaf told a press conference.
Described the aircraft as "a new technique" for border control, Khalaf said that "this is the first time Iraq has used unmanned planes to intensify the monitoring of Iraqi borders."
Khalaf added that the pilotless aircraft were most useful at night, when their infrared sensors could detect the body heat of militants.
U.S. forces shot down in February an Iranian unmanned scout plane that flew inside the Iraqi border. For years, the United States alleged Iran supported Shiite militias fighting U.S. troops in Iraq, which Tehran has repeatedly denied.
Such a military method stride in Iraq comes when U.S. and British troops, battered by global financial crisis, a new anti-terror mission in Afghanistan, as well as their domestic and world criticism for an unjustified invasion, started to pull out.
Tuesday witnessed the British troops start to withdrawal from Iraq's southern city of Basra after six years since the U.S.-led invasion in 2003 of the oil-rich state in the very heart of the Middle East.
The departure is part of an agreement signed between Iraq and Britain in November last year, in which the latter pledged to complete pullout of its last 4,100 soldiers from Iraq by late July2009.
According to agreement reached between Washington and Baghdad, U.S. soldiers will also end their combating missions by pulling out of towns and cities this summer. All 146,000 U.S. troops must leave Iraq before Dec. 31, 2011.