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October 21, 2015 Special Dispatch No. 6193

Syrian Opposition: 'Suicide Drones' Used For First Time Against Opposition Forces In Syria

October 21, 2015
Syria | Special Dispatch No. 6193

Several Syrian opposition websites reported in the last few days that booby-trapped 'suicide' drones were used for the first time against opposition forces in Syria, apparently by either the Russian forces or Shi'ite militias. The opposition website Syria Mubashir reported on October 19, 2015 that six small remote-controlled drones had exploded that day next to Ahrar Al-Sham targets in the village of Ma'ar Shimmareen, near the city of Ma'arat Al-Nu'man in Rif Idlib, killing and wounding several fighters and causing extensive damage to gear. The website also noted that there are conflicting reports regarding the source of the attacks, with some claiming that the drones were dispatched from the Hamimim airbase near Lattakia, where Russian troops are currently stationed, and others claiming that they were dispatched from portable launchers in the area where Shi'ite militias are located. The website also noted that this was the first time these weapons were used against the Rebels in Syria.[1]  

In a video posted to YouTube on October 20, the Syrian Smart News agency reported that five Russian drones had hit the Ahrar Al-Sham headquarters in Ma'ar Shimmareen, killing a fighter and damaging several vehicles. In the report, Ahrar Al-Sham field commander Abu Amir says that the drones landed and then exploded, breaking up into many pieces. Fighters from the organization explain that the drones are made of plastic and carry bombs that explode after the aircraft lands.[2]

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Ahrar Al-Sham fighter displays a piece of an exploded drone

According to the website of the Orient News television station, which is associated with the opposition, the drones were dispatched by "Iran's sectarian [i.e., Shi'ite] militias." The website added that these militias, located in the Rif Aleppo, Idlib and Hama regions, were equipped with Iranian-manufactured drones launched from portable launchers.[3] It quoted Ahrar Al-Sham military spokesman Abu Al-Yazid Taftanaz as saying that a drone had targeted  an Ahrar Al-Sham building, killing one fighter and wounding several. Taftanaz called on all the rebel factions to evacuate their military headquarters if such attacks recurred.

It should be noted that, in late 2014, in the course of a military exercise it conducted, Iran presented 'suicide' drones intended to explode against their targets.[4] At the time, the Iranian website Mashregh News, which is affiliated with security circles,  presented 10 models of drones and said that some of them were suitable for suicide missions while others could be modified for such operations.[5]

 
 Iranian Mohajer 4 drone

  
Iranian Mohajer drone

Iranian Army ground forces commander Ahmad-Reza Purdastan said: "This [military] exercise saw our first use of a suicide drone that can be used to attack aerial and ground targets. This is a mobile bomb. In accordance with the existing capabilities of the [Iranian] industry, we have improved the range and operational capabilities of our drones. They currently carry better equipment and are furnished with more sophisticated cameras. These drones are the ground forces' long arm on the battlefield."[6] Ground forces deputy commander Kiomars Heydari confirmed that Iran had modified drones for suicide missions.[7]

 

Endnotes:

 

[1] Slnnews.co, October 19, 2015.

[2] Youtube.com/watch?v=np7HVZkW6ZY, October 20, 2015.

[3] Orient-news.net, October 19, 2015.

[4] See MEMRI Special Dispatch No. 6019, "Iran Presents Its Suicide Drones," April 10, 2015.

[5] Mashregh (Iran), December 31, 2014.

[6] Defapress.ir, December 26, 2014.

[7] Tasnim (Iran), January 6, 2015.

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