New twist in Syria: Militants have begun using weaponized drones

FILE- In this March 1, 2013 file photo, anti-Syrian President Bashar Assad protesters hold the Jabhat al-Nusra flag, as they shout slogans during a demonstration, at Kafranbel town, in Idlib province, northern Syria. Insurgent groups like Hezbollah and the Islamic State group in Syria have learned how to weaponize surveillance drones and use them against each other, adding a new twist to the country’s civil war, a U.S. military official and others say. (AP Photo/Hussein Malla, File)

Militant groups like Hezbollah and the Islamic State have learned to weaponize surveillance drones and use them against each other, adding a new twist to Syria's civil war. The U.S. military is aware of the development, and commanders have warned troops to take cover if they see what they once might have dismissed as a surveillance drone, officials said. This newest development became reality this week when two French soldiers were gravely injured by a drone that exploded as they assisted Kurdish forces aligned against ISIS in Iraq.

This is the stuff everyone has been terrified about for years, and now it's a reality.

Chris Woods, head of the Airwars project that tracks terrorism groups

Armed drones appear in a video belonging to an al-Qaida offshoot, Jund al-Aqsa, that purportedly shows such an aircraft landing on Syrian military barracks. In another video, small explosives apparently dropped by the Iran-backed Shiite militant group Hezbollah target the Sunni militant group Jabhat Fateh al-Sham, formerly known as the Nusra Front.

These are things that are normally beyond the capability of insurgents or terrorist groups.

P.W. Singer, author of "Wired for War: The Robotics Revolution and Conflict in the 21st Century"
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Available anywhere

The majority of militant groups have access only to store-bought drones, similar to those available in the U.S., ranging in price from $1,000 to $3,000 and weighing between 5 and 10 pounds — not enough to support a large bomb or rocket.

Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant

The Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant(ISIL,), also known as the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria(ISIS,), Islamic State(IS), and by its Arabic language acronym Daesh, is a Salafi jihadist militant group that follows a fundamentalist, Wahhabi doctrine of Sunni Islam.

Unmanned aerial vehicle

An unmanned aerial vehicle(UAV), commonly known as a drone, as an unmanned aircraft system(UAS), or by several other names, is an aircraft without a human pilot aboard. The flight of UAVs may operate with various degrees of autonomy: either under remote control by a human operator, or fully or intermittently autonomously, by onboard computers.Compared to manned aircraft, UAVs are often preferred for missions that are too"dull, dirty or dangerous" for humans.

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