In new video footage circulating around various social media sites, ISIS supporters have been openly boasting about a weaponized drone program which the terrorist organization has been using to target Iraqi forces in Mosul. While the video appears to be, in part, CGI-enhanced propaganda, other portions reveal actual IED attacks on armored vehicles and human targets.
Below are highlights from the video:
— Rami (@RamiAILoIah) January 24, 2017
While Major General Gary Volesky, commander of the 101st Airborne division, described the ISIS drone program as nothing more than "commercial, off-the-shelf kind of things," their unsophisticated aerial IED attacks have nevertheless resulted in numerous injuries including a reporter and cameraman working for a U.S.-funded media outlet last week in eastern Mosul. Per PJ Media:
A reporter and a cameraman for U.S.-funded Al-Hurra were injured last week in an ISIS drone attack on eastern Mosul.
Iraq's defense ministry announced that their forces are in control of eastern Mosul -- a city divided by the Tigris River -- and have begun planning operations to retake smaller but more densely populated western Mosul.
In mid-October, just after the Mosul operation began, Maj. Gen. Gary Volesky, commander of Combined Joint Forces' Land Component Command for Operation Inherent Resolve and commander of the 101st Airborne, told reporters that ISIS drones were in use.
The general described them as "really, a lot of commercial, off-the-shelf kind of things we've seen" -- though they're "clearly not the capacity or capability" that the coalition has.
One scene from the video also reveals a coordinated effort between IED drone strikes and suicide bombers on the ground.
The video uses photography from another drone to show a weaponized drone flying toward its target, and cameras on the weaponized drone itself show the impact from dropping an IED on a group of people in a street. When vehicles start to respond to the scene, a suicide bomber in a car drives in and detonates in a follow-up attack.
ISIS continues to show a variety of other explosive drops from a drone's vantage point, mostly targeting individual parked vehicles or small groups of people.
The blasts produced by the explosives are akin to grenades, appearing to inflict some injuries when aimed directly at people but seeming to have little effect when dropped on tanks.
And while the "ISIS drone program" is unlikely to reach a level of sophistication required to take out armored vehicles anytime in the immediate future, Former US special forces officer, Mitch Utterback, said that the aerial IED attacks can nonetheless be very effective in targeting specific, unprotected high-ranking officers. Per the Daily Mail:
Former US special forces officer, Mitch Utterback, who discovered the devices, told the Mail: ‘Iraqi forces are very, very concerned about these.
‘My concern is them being used to target specific, high-ranking officers who are leading the ground combat against Islamic State.’
He said the devices’ electronics had been modified to release grenades.
The drones can drop a single 40mm rifle grenade - which could kill or injure within a five meter radius, he added.
‘With the precision guidance of the camera, they can and are used to directly target troops in the open’ he added.
Of course, while this low-level technology may not be incredibly effective on the battlefield just yet, we suspect it's only a matter of time until it's used to target crowded streets in the major metro areas of the U.S. and Western Europe.