ISIS has made weapons out of commercial drones
Iraqi Security Forces who are trying to drive ISIS out of Mosul is facing an arsenal of improvised, experimental weapons from ISIS, which are commercial quadcopter drones, converted into tiny bombers. The ISIS already uses weapons such as rifles, mortars, artillery and suicidal car bombs.
ISIS, the radical insurgent group holding territory in both Syria and Iraq, is fighting for its life in Mosul, a large city in Northern Iraq that the terrorist organization has occupied since 2014. Iraqi troops and other security forces have been fighting to retake Mosul from the Islamic State group since early November.
Last week, Kurdish media network Rudaw reported that Islamic State fighters in Mosul are using drones to drop small bombs onto Iraqi security forces and civilians. The explosive-dropping drones have killed civilians, damaged some equipment and structure. Until now, ISIS has not used these drones to deliver chemical weapons, Rudaw said.
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ISIS fighters in Mosul are using quadcopters that are no larger than a couple feet in diameter and can fly for about an hour.
“It’s not as if it is a large, armed UAV [unmanned aerial vehicle] that is dropping munitions from the wings—but literally, a very small quadcopter that drops a small munition in a somewhat imprecise manner,” [Col. Brett] Sylvia, commander of an American military advising mission in Iraq, told Military Times. “They are very short-range, targeting those front-line troops from the Iraqis.”
Without getting into specifics, Sylvia said U.S. troops have been able to “bring to bear some of our technical capabilities” to help the Iraqis shoot down nearly a dozen drones.
Recently, Iraqi forces captured these drone bombers and shared it with American advisors, which appear to be commercial, off-the-shelf models, adapted to carry grenade-sized payloads. ISIS fighters abandoned many parts for the drones as they retreated.
Iraqi forces have anti-drone weapons, including gun-like jammers that can drop some commercial models to the ground. They have also taken down at least a dozen armed drones so far, Rudaw reports. The ISF also uses off-the-shelf drones in its military operations, mainly for scouting and helping to call artillery strikes.
Iraqi security forces have recaptured most of eastern Mosul, but they face a tough fight in the western part of the city, where ISIS is buried, Sylvia said.
“There has been an extensive defensive work that has been done in western Mosul,” he said. “They have certainly been working on that area and even, in some cases, have greater defenses built in western Mosul than they did in eastern Mosul.”