Islamic State using weaponised drones in Mosul
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Johannesburg – The Islamic State (IS) has resorted to the use of drones as weapons in a bid to upgrade their armoury as they continue to battle Iraqi government and Kurdish Peshmerga forces, led by American advisers, for control of Mosul in northern Iraq.
The coalition offensive against the IS began last October after the extremists captured Mosul in mid-2014.
The Iraqi army's military campaign to retake the city has met with fierce resistance, including snipers, ambushes and suicide attackers using trucks rigged with explosives.
However, Al Jazeera reported on Tuesday that the group's arsenal now included weaponised drones after a black Humvee arrived at an Iraqi army command post with a collection of plastics, electronics and rotor blades attached on top of the vehicle. The cargo inside the Humvee included homemade fixed-wing craft fashioned out of corrugated plastic and duct tape.
This is not the first time that the IS has used drones.
Previously they were used in both Iraq and Syria specifically for general intelligence-gathering, relaying instructions to suicide bombers and as spotters for mortar firing as well as filming propaganda videos. But the jihadists' current use of the drones poses a new threat because they are also now being used as weapons with bombs attached to them.
Last October, Kurdish Peshmerga fighters downed an IS drone north of Mosul. After the device was transported back to their base for examination, a small amount of explosive material inside the device detonated, killing two Kurdish fighters and injuring two French Special Forces soldiers with whom they had been working.
These were the first reported casualties from one of the IS's weaponised drones.
However, it is not believed that the IS will be able to inflict mass casualties with their small aerial drones even if they are further developed.
Meanwhile, a suicide bomber driving a bakkie loaded with explosives struck a bustling market in Baghdad on Monday, killing at least 36 people in an attack claimed by the IS, hours after French President Francois Hollande arrived in the Iraqi capital.