In Militants' Hands, Drones Emerge as a Deadly New Wild Card in the Middle East

(Washington Post) Joby Warrick - Western intelligence officials estimate that militants in Iraq and Syria have acquired "scores" of new drones supplied by Iran. This followed earlier decisions by Tehran to provide lethal drones to Houthi rebels in Yemen and Hizbullah militants in Lebanon. The Quds Force, which arms Iran's network of foreign militias, also has supplied computerized operating systems for the aircraft, as well as training for militants on how to modify commercial UAVs for military use, according to the Western intelligence officials. Yet, after equipping its militia allies with drones and know-how, Tehran appears to be losing its grip over how the aircraft are used. Military discipline within Iran's network of Shiite militias in Iraq has deteriorated since the death of Quds Force commander Maj.-Gen. Qasem Soleimani. The drone attack on the official residence of Iraqi Prime Minister Mustafa al-Kadhimi on Nov. 7 was not authorized by Tehran, Iraqi officials have concluded. "Some of the groups frankly don't see themselves anymore as primarily Iranian proxies, but as independent actors who don't need permission from anybody to do what they want," said Matthew Levitt, a researcher with the Washington Institute for Near East Policy. Since January, militants have launched at least six drone attacks against U.S. and coalition forces in Iraq. In several cases, the bombs attached to the drones were identical to the one used in the attack on Kadhimi.

2021-12-09 00:00:00

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