When someone thinks of drones in relation to the War on Terror, they often think of an American Predator drone shooting a Hellfire missile through a window towards a high value terror leaders. In Raqqa, ISIS fighters are also utilizing drone technology, though far more rudimentary than a four-million-dollar Predator Drone.
As ISIS forces are being pushed back, they are using drone technology to kill allied forces and to disrupt air support. Yesterday, two ISIS drones dropped bombs on Kurdish positions just outside of Raqqa, causing an unknown number of casualties. US forces on the ground in Syria, who mainly have been calling in targets for air support, have had their operations disrupted as they have had to relocate to avoid the bombings from the drones. Thankfully, there have been no U.S. casualties in Raqqa due to drone attacks.
Devices that could stop these attacks are not yet in use in Raqqa, though they have been used in Mosul. Guns that would scramble the signals to the drones as well as Anti-Unmanned Aerial Vehicle Devices could be used to combat these incidents, although the scramblers have the potential to harm allied communication systems.
US forces have taken other steps to stop ISIS drone operations, destroying buildings that are believed to house drone production facilities. These steps have helped, but the drones being used are very easy to make.The drones ISIS fighters are using can be as simple as taking a regular recreational drone, attaching an artillery shell to it, and using an improvised switch to drop the shell onto unsuspecting forces below. Defense One lays out the types of drones ISIS is using in a recent piece.
While these operations have slowed down US advances in Iraq and Syria, the push against ISIS in both Raqqa and Mosul continues to be strong, Kurdish forces have recently taken 10% of Raqqa and are expected to take the rest of the city. ISIS is getting desperate, and is attempting to use every trick in the book to defend themselves from their inevitable defeat. With the Caliphate in dire straits, it is possible that ISIS will ramp up attacks in Europe and the United States, possibly using similar tactics to the ones they have used in the ground war.
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