HTS shoots down armed Hezbollah drone in western Syria

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.

Additionally, in 2012 and 2013, the Israeli Air Force shot down two unarmed Hezbollah drones over the northern Negev and near Haifa.

Other groups inside Syria, including the Islamic State and the former Jund al Aqsa, have also demonstrated the use of armed commercial drones.

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.

Caleb Weiss is an editor of FDD's Long War Journal and a senior analyst at the Bridgeway Foundation, where he focuses on the spread of the Islamic State in Central Africa.

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  • Arjuna says:

    Speaking of drones… Putin’s little green men recently dropped a thermite grenade on a Ukrainian ammo dump that did a B in damage.
    Yikes. That’s up there w 9/11 in Return On Investment terms.

  • irebukeu says:

    I think the Ukraine is Europe’s poorest nation. If they suffered the loss of a billion dollars in value, the cost was borne by someone else (I can only guess) and they only hosted someones loss. Are we sure the Russians did it? Perhaps inventory was going to be off that week.


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