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IS Joins List of Militant Groups With Reported Drone Capabilities

RIA Novosti

17:05 25/08/2014 MOSCOW, August 25 (RIA Novosti) - The Islamic State (IS) militant group appears to have drone capabilities as is evidenced by a recent IS propaganda video containing surveillance footage of a Syrian military base.

The 14-minute video, uploaded to YouTube on Saturday, shows aerial views of Syrian Army Military Base 93 near Raqqa Governorate in northern Syria. There is a caption over the footage that reads “From the drone of the army of the Islamic State.” The video does not show the drone itself.

IS militants attacked Base 93 on August 7. The video contains various scenes of the attack, with suicide bombers driving truck bombs to soften up resistance and IS militants gunning down and beheading Syrian soldiers.

The IS, formerly known as the Islamic State of Iraq and Greater Syria (ISIS), is a radical Sunni group that has been active in Syria, as well as northern and western Iraq.

Other militant groups that have reportedly come to possess drones include Lebanese Shiite movement Hezbollah, the Hamas Palestinian Islamic Organization and Libyan opposition fighters.

Hezbollah militants have been taking part in the Syrian government's operations against the armed opposition and IS militants. Hezbollah is also one of Israel’s most powerful opponents.

In April, the Israeli military said it had shot down a drone off the coast of Haifa that was operated by Hezbollah. The group denied responsibility for the drone, but claimed that it had operated a different unmanned aircraft that flew 35 miles into Israel in October.

Hamas is believed to be the first militant group to send a drone into Israeli territory. The drone, which flew in the country’s airspace above the southern city of Ashdod, was shot down by Israel on July 14. Hamas then posted a video online that showed another drone, with four small rockets under its wings, flying over what analysts believe could also be Israeli airspace, according to CNN.

Hamas’s military wing, the al-Qassam Brigades, claims it has engineered different types of drones capable of conducting surveillance, gathering intelligence and delivering munitions.

Libyan opposition fighters targeting ousted leader Muammar Gaddafi have also started using drones for surveillance. In the summer of 2011 the rebels bought a scout drone from a Canadian company.

According to the New America Foundation, more than 70 countries currently have some kind of drone capability, although just a small number of those nations possess armed drone aircraft.

Russia, China and Iran are among the countries that possess armed drones but have not used them in combat.

The only countries that have deployed armed drones in combat are the United States, the United Kingdom and Israel.

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