Erbil – US Colonel Brett Sylvia, commander of the Coalition’s Task Force Strike in Iraq, confirmed that ISIS has been using weaponised drones and dropping munitions on Iraqi security forces in Mosul.
Iraqi Shia Popular Mobilization Units (PMU) also confirmed the ISIS use of weaponized drones in the fight for Mosul. “Iraqi forces captured several ISIS Drones rigged with a grenade drop mechanism,” the PMU said on Friday.
“The ISIS drones have evolved over time,” the US commander Colonel Brett Sylvia said. “It is a capability that they have had for pretty much the duration of the time that we’ve been here. It’s, you know, commercial off-the-shelf, you know, just UAVs that — that they purchase.”
“As we’ve made our way into Mosul now, what we’ve seen is that they [ISIS] use the smaller drones, the quad copters things, with a much shorter ability to project them out,” he added.
The first time ISIS used weaponised drones was on 2 October 2016, when a drone rigged with explosives and controlled by a group linked to Islamic State (ISIS) killed two Peshmerga fighters, and badly wounded two French soldiers in the Kurdistan Region of Iraq, a report by Conflict Armament Research said in November.
“The use of drones by terrorist and insurgent forces is a growing issue of international concern. The capacity to weaponise these remotely operated vehicles would be a significant addition to Islamic State’s growing arsenal of improvised weapons,” said James Bevan, Executive Director of the Conflict Armaments Research.
The Iraqi forces have responded with firing directly on the ISIS drones. “And as a result of us working together hand-in-hand, we [US-led coalition and allied Iraqi and Kurdish forces] have been able to bring down these ISIS drones and have made them much less effective than they were in the beginning,” Colonel Sylvia said.
So far, the use of drones by ISIS has resulted in the damage of some equipment, structures and civilian casualties.
“They’re not concerned about whether or not any of the civilians in Mosul are killed or wounded,” he added. “You know, they are small drones with small munitions that they’ve been dropping, just akin to a small little grenade that drops on the ground, enough for them to be able to do what Daesh [ISIS] does, and that’s just indiscriminate killing…that’s what they do,” the US Colonel said.
However, the US-led coalition says the effectiveness of these drones are limited. “Their effectiveness has significantly waned as we have worked this counter-UAS fight together with the Iraqis,” Col. Sylvia concluded.
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