Hay’at Tahrir al Sham (HTS), an insurgent umbrella organization in Syria which includes al Qaeda’s branch in the country, released a video earlier today showing its forces in western Syria shooting down an armed Hezbollah drone.
The video depicts the last moments of an armed Hezbollah drone flying over HTS positions somewhere in western Qalamoun. At least two explosives were dropped from the commercial drone before it tumbles to the ground after being hit by small arms fire. The drone was being used as part of a current Hezbollah-led offensive in both western Qalamoun and in the Jurud Arsal area of Lebanon.
This is not the first time Hezbollah has used an armed drone for its operations inside Syria. Last year, the Shiite jihadist group used an armed drone in support of an offensive in Aleppo. That instance was the first visual confirmation of Hezbollah displaying the capability for building and deploying armed drones. Prior that, in 2014, Hezbollah claimed using an armed drone on militants loyal to the Al Nusrah Front (al Qaeda’s branch in Syria, now part of HTS) in Arsal.
The use of small commercial drones equipped with explosive munitions allows Hezbollah, and other militant groups, to cheaply manufacture air capabilities. Hezbollah has reportedly built a “fleet” of these drones for its operations inside Syria and Lebanon. In the event of a conflict with Israel, these drones would undoubtedly be used.