Venezuela says U.S. military plane violated its airspace

FILE - In this Jan. 10, 2019, file photo, Venezuela's President Nicolas Maduro holds up a small copy of the constitution as he speaks during his swearing-in ceremony at the Supreme Court in Caracas, Venezuela. The coalition of Latin American governments that joined the U.S. in quickly recognizing opposition leader Juan Guaido as Venezuela’s interim president, and not Maduro, came together during weeks of secret diplomacy. (AP Photo/Ariana Cubillos, File)

Venezuela’s armed forces said on Friday that a U.S. military plane violated its airspace along the South American country’s border with Colombia in what it said was a “flagrant provocation.”

Venezuela, whose socialist government is under heavy sanctions from Washington, has on several occasions in recent years reported alleged airspace violations.

It said that on Thursday evening, a C-17 plane from the U.S. Air Force flew over the Perija mountains in western Zulia state for three minutes.

“They are performing reconnaissance tasks on Venezuelan geophysical space, and thus we do not rule out other possible hostile actions that violate our sovereignty and territorial integrity,” the Venezuelan armed forces said in a statement.

The U.S. State Department did not immediately respond to requests for comment. Washington accuses President Nicolas Maduro of corruption, human rights violations and rigging his 2018 re-election, and has pressured him to step down.

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