Iranian Drones Now Hitting Rebel Targets in Syria
Iranian drone program branching out from border defense to ops in Pakistan and Syria
We can add Iran to the list of countries that have dropped munitions in anger over the past year, now that an arms researcher has been able to geolocate video of an Iranian drone striking targets near Aleppo, Syria.
On Feb. 4, an Iranian news show broadcast a short piece highlighting how Iran’s Revolutionary Guards have been using the Shahed 129 drone to monitor the country’s southeast borders with Afghanistan and Pakistan. But as arms researcher Galen Wright points out, “in addition to footage of the drones operating out of Konarak airport near Pakistan, the program featured two short clips of the aircraft striking targets south of Aleppo.” Watch the report, and the footage, here.
Wright figured this out by geolocating the strikes to the border region between Idlib and Aleppo. The footage shows the Iranian drone bombing a group of men in a field as well as a house in the nearby village of Halasah. While this is the first time we’ve seen evidence of an actual airstrike, the drone is hardly a newcomer to the war in Syria. There’s been footage of the Shahed flying over Damascus as far back as 2014, but the strike would mark Iran’s entrance into the growing club of countries that have used armed drones in conflict alongside Iraq, Pakistan, and Nigeria just in the past year.
Iran hasn’t been shy about deploying the bird. One crashed in Pakistan in August, 2015, setting off a brief flurry of Tweets:
But the system is no joke. When the Iranian Revolutionary Guard first rolled it out back in 2012, they claimed the drone could operate at a range of about 1,700 km. and can stay airborne for up to 24 hours. The system can also carry up to eight missiles.
Photo Credit: ATTA KENARE/AFP/Getty Images