The U.S.-led coalition against the Islamic State has killed two senior Islamic State leaders that were experts in the fields of weapons research and drone deployment.
Airstrikes from the coalition resulted in the deaths of Abu Anas al-Shami and Junaid ur Rehman near Mayadin in Syria Sept. 4, according to a statement from U.S. Central Command.
Shami’s role in ISIS was conducting weapons research, and as such, he headed attempts to obtain explosives for the terror group. He was also responsible for developing plans to deploy bombs outside of Syria. In Syria itself, Shami ran a team that built improvised explosive devices to boobytrap vehicles and buildings.
Rehman worked for ISIS as a senior drone pilot trainer and engineer. His job was to weaponize drones and use them for surveillance purposes.
“The Coalition will continue to exert pressure on ISIS senior leaders and associates across multiple networks in order to degrade, disrupt, and dismantle ISIS structures and remove the extremist terrorists throughout Iraq and Syria,” CENTCOM said in a statement.
ISIS has a history of using drones in battle, beginning in 2014 when the group deployed them for the purpose of gathering intelligence and producing propaganda films. A CENTCOM official told Defense One in January that ISIS was spotted using about one drone per day near Mosul in Iraq. Such drone use has prompted the coalition to start targeting ISIS drone production facilities and launch sites.
“The Coalition has struck a number of what we believed to be unmanned aerial vehicle facilities in Mosul,” the official said. “We spend considerable time researching and developing target lists to ensure maximum effects against.”
While the drones used by ISIS are no match for U.S.-designed unmanned aerial vehicles like Predators and Reapers, even a simple drone can carry up to a three-pound mortar shell, which when dropped can have a blast radius of 30 to 45 feet.
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