Defense officials are disputing a Los Angeles Times report that Pakistan has allowed armed U.S. Predator drones to fly inside its geographical territory to carry out airstrikes against the Taliban and other extremist groups.
Under the new partnership, U.S. drones will be allowed to venture beyond the borders of Afghanistan into Pakistan's territory under the direction of Pakistani military officials, the Los Angeles Times reported on Wednesday.
A senior defense official at Central Command, however, called the Times report "grossly inaccurate," adding that the idea of the U.S. Military openly operating in that area would be a drastic change in policy, the official said.
Pakistan military officials are working with their American counterparts at a command center in Jalalabad, Afghanistan, the paper reported.
The program was created to enhance Pakistan's ability and willingness to counter rising militant groups that pose a growing threat against the government and fuel attacks in Afghanistan.
"This is about building trust. This is about giving them capabilities they do not currently have to help them defeat this radical extreme element that is in their country," the paper quoted a senior U.S. military official as saying.
Pakistani President Asif Ali Zardari, on a recent trip to Washington, reiterated a request that his country obtain its own fleet of Predator drones, but U.S. officials have all but ruled out the possibility.
Instead, the new joint operation is being touted as an effective compromise.
Pakistan, which has previously denied allowing U.S. drones to take off from an airbase within its borders to carry out attacks in the lawless tribal region along the Afghan border, did not deny that the joint program is now in place.
"The program marks a significant departure from how the war against Taliban insurgents has been fought for most of the last seven years," the Times said.
FOX News' Justin Fishel contributed to this report.