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The use of drones by militants in the battlefield persists also in Syria. Russian forces have foiled a drone attack on an airbase in Syria. The recent attempt to bomb the Hmeimim base near the north-western city of Latakia was thwarted when unmanned aircraft were shot down, according to a report by the UK-based monitoring group Syrian Observatory for Human Rights SOHR. The coastal Hmeimim airbase is at the core of Russia’s war effort in Syria.
The group said the base was targeted by drones belonging to an “Islamist faction” operating in the area. No casualties or details of damage to the airbase have yet been reported.
Russian news site Lenta reports the drones used in the attempted attack were basic in design. Thye featured an engine taped to a wooden frame, which carried two “home-made mines”, according to international news agencies..
The week before, Russian military journalist Roman Saponkov published photos on social media that appeared to show warplanes damaged in a mortar attack on Russia’s Hmeimim base on New Year’s Eve. However, the Russian Defense Ministry said the reports were untrue, according to tass.com.
The US has been confronting the drone threat for several years. Notably, groups associated with the Islamic State are using commercial drones outfitted with ordinance. “They used them when we were closing in on Mosul,” American Lt. Gen. Mark Nowland, deputy chief of staff for operations for the Air Force, told reporters, according to c4isrnet.com. “There were some operations where they dropped essentially a grenade, so it was essentially a piece of artillery that was falling on some forces.” ISIS flew over 300 drone missions in one month during the battle for Mosul, said Peter Singer, a senior fellow and strategist at the New America Foundation, about one-third of those flights were armed strike missions.
By teaming with industry and the Air Force Research Laboratory, Nowland said the Air Force is trying to get some capabilities into the field. While some have been deployed, he said more needs to be done. One approach the military is taking is fighting drones with drones. The Air Force Research Lab in conjunction with Joint Improvised-Threat Defeat Organization is working on a solution in which small drones patrol the skies for enemy devices deploying a net to capture potentially adversarial drones.