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Iranian state TV uses Zero Dark Thirty screenshot as 'proof' of top CIA man's 'death'

The US surveillance jet crashed in eastern Afghanistan [Getty]

Date of publication: 29 January, 2020

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Iranian claims that a top CIA operative died in a plane crash in Afghanistan have been backed with bizarre proof by state media.


Iranian state television broadcast a screenshot from the movie 'Zero Dark Thirty' as evidence that a CIA officer who was reportedly involved in the assassination of a top Iranian general had been killed in a plane crash.

The image used by Iran's Channel One shows American actor Frederic Lehne, who portrays a character based on real-life CIA agent Michael D'Andrea in the Hollywood film.

The report followed the crash of a US surveillance aircraft in eastern Afghanistan, which was confirmed by the US military on Monday. 

D'Andrea was involved in the decade-long hunt for Osama bin Laden and was allegedly one of the key CIA figures behind the assassination of top Iranian military commander General Qasem Soleimani.

The Taliban claimed that several US personnel were killed in the crash in Ghazni, while Iranian media claimed that D'Andrea was among the crash's victims.

US officials who spoke to Reuters said that fewer than five people were on board.

"While the cause of crash is under investigation, there are no indications the crash was caused by enemy fire. We will provide additional information as it becomes available," USFOR-A spokesman Colonel Sonny Leggett, tweeted. 

Colonel Leggett also tweeted: "Taliban claims that additional aircraft have crashed are false."

Crashes involving military flights, particularly helicopters, are common in Afghanistan where inclement weather and aging aircraft are often pushed to their limits in the war-torn country - and where insurgents have been known to target helicopters.
 
The last civilian flight to crash was in May 2010, when an ageing Pamir Airways plane went down in bad weather during a scheduled flight to Kabul from the northern province of Kunduz.

Agencies contributed to this report.

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