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ISIS unveils first ‘weaponized drone’ in continued battle for Mosul

The Islamic State has released a new video clip showing what appears to be a weaponized drone conducting an aerial attack on Iraqi forces near Mosul. The video clip, part of a trailer released by ISIS’ Ninwah (Nineveh) Province to promote an upcoming video, also features a 45-second burst of ISIS operations around embattled Mosul, including gun battles and suicide operations in an attempt by the terror group to portray continued successes in Mosul. In recent days, U.S.-backed forces have successfully liberated the eastern half of the city with ISIS still clinging on to the western half. Aerial footage shows Iraqi army personnel gathered near two military vehicles, when a projectile drops from the air, killing or seriously injuring the troops. The footage marks the first instance of ISIS successfully using a UAV (Unmanned Aerial Vehicle) to stage an attack, though its unclear if it is the same a large military-shaped drone dropping weapons shown later in the clip. Previous ISIS drone usage has been limited to surveillance operations, some used to help synchronize grounds operations from the air and some providing video recordings of attacks for use in later propaganda releases. Last week Kurdish outlet Rudaw reported instances where ISIS militants adapted commercially available drones for suicide operations. Jihadis using off-the-shelf battery powered drones have attached lightweight ammunition such as rifle grenades capable of injuring or killing within approximately a 5-meter radius and then flew them into groups of people using the devices’ on-board precision camera. Last year, a booby-trapped drone killed two Kurdish fighters and wounded a number of French troops near Erbil in Iraq. ISIS typically releases new videos by first sharing a trailer along with a poster to social media channels, followed by a full release several hours later. As of 6pm ET, roughly 10 hours after the clip first appeared, a full video does not seem to have been posted. Noting the growing threat armed drones could have on U.S. troops in Iraq, the U.S. Defense Department requested $20 million in funding in July last year, to “counter the effects of unmanned aerial systems and the threats they pose to U.S. forces," according to Bloomberg.
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