US Airstrikes Take On ISIS Terrorist ‘Drone Experts’

(Air National Guard photo by Senior Airman Michael Quiboloy/Released)

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Saagar Enjeti White House Correspondent
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U.S. airstrikes have targeted Islamic State drone experts in Syria in recent days, reflecting deep fear within the Pentagon regarding the growing technical threat, Central Command revealed in a Friday statement.

CENTCOM noted that the death of one particular expert, Abu Salman, “greatly disrupts ISIS’ development of weaponized drones and testing of new software.” The other two experts targeted “were responsible for manufacturing and modifying commercially produced drones.” All three were killed near the Mayadin area of Syria in the middle Euphrates River valley, where U.S. commanders expect the terrorist group to make its last stand.

“The removal of these three highly skilled ISIS officials disrupts and degrades ISIS ability to modify and employ drone platforms as reconnaissance and direct-fire weapons on the battlefield,” Operation Inherent Resolve Spokesman Army Col. Ryan Dillon told Pentagon reporters Thursday.

The Pentagon is so weary of the threat of commercial drones that it has commissioned a $700 million effort for U.S. defense contractors to try to find solutions to the threat, including using lasers to shoot them out of the sky. The program is reportedly in response to worries that U.S.  bases in Syria could be vulnerable to ISIS drone attacks, and it sees the broader trend in warfare.

Commercial drone use by the terrorist group is becoming an increasing concern for the U.S. military and Counter Terrorism professionals defending the homeland. “I think the expectation is that it’s coming here imminently. I think they are relatively easy to acquire, relatively easy to operate, and quite difficult to disrupt and monitor,” FBI Director Christopher Wray told the U.S. Congress Thursday of the threat of drone use by ISIS.

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