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Sun 29 Mar 2009 11:19 PM

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Unmanned drones used by Israel on Iranian convoys

Report claims Iranian convoys in Sudan, attempting to smuggle rockets into Gaza, hit.

Israel used unmanned drones to attack clandestine Iranian convoys in Sudan that were attempting to smuggle rockets into Gaza, Britain's Sunday Times newspaper has reported.The paper said that western diplomats confirmed that Israel attacked the Iranian truck convoys in late January and the first week of February in the remote Sudan desert, just outside the Red Sea town of Port Sudan.

The convoys had been tracked by agents from Mossad, Israel's overseas intelligence agency, the report added.

The Sudanese government said this week it was investigating the possibility that Israel was behind the deadly air strikes, but so far had found no proof.

Foreign ministry spokesman Ali Sadiq said there were two separate bombing raids against smugglers, killing about 40 people.

The Sunday Times said that had the rockets been delivered to Hamas, they would have raised the stakes in the conflict with Israel.

It quoted defence sources as saying the convoys were carrying Fajr-3 rockets, which have a range of more than 40 miles (65 kilometres), and were split into sections to be smuggled through tunnels into Gaza from Egypt.

"They built the Fajr in parts so it would be easy to smuggle them into Gaza, then reassemble them with Hamas experts who learnt the job in Syria and Iran," a source told the paper.

The main reason for using drones instead of manned aircraft to attack was that a convoy forms a "slippery" target, a source said.

"When you attack a fixed target, especially a big one, you are better off using jet aircraft.

But with a moving target with no definite time for the move UAVs (unmanned aerial vehicles) are best, as they can hover extremely high and remain unseen until the target is on the move," the source said.