Russia has been jamming U.S. drones flying over Syria in recent weeks, hampering the ability of American military commanders to conduct aerial reconnaissance and collect battlefield intelligence, according to U.S. officials.
The Russians began jamming some smaller drones in March, after the Syrian government carried out a series of suspected chemical weapons attacks on rebel-held eastern Ghouta, reported NBC News, citing four administration officials.
Moscow was concerned the U.S. would retaliate for the attacks, so it began to block GPS satellite signals that allow the drones to navigate. The tactic has had an impact on U.S. military operations in Syria, officials said, according to NBC News.
Russia’s interference with U.S. drones in Syria comes as President Donald Trump weighs a response to a suspected chemical weapons attack by the Syrian government against civilians in Douma, a rebel-held town near Damascus. Trump has warned that Syrian President Bashar al-Assad and his backers, including Russia, will pay a “big price” for the suspected attack, which killed dozens of people and left hundreds more injured.
At a U.N. Security Council meeting on Monday, Russia said any U.S. attack against Syria will have “grave repercussions,” but Russian diplomats downplayed the possibility of direct military conflict with U.S. forces.
Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov said Tuesday the Kremlin would submit a resolution to the Security Council proposing that U.N. chemical weapons inspectors investigate the alleged attack in Douma, reported Reuters.
Meanwhile, Russia continues to employ jamming technology in Syria that is effective against encrypted signals and anti-jamming receivers, U.S. officials said. So far, only smaller surveillance drones have been affected, not the large armed Predator and Reaper drones.
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