Islamic State's Drone Operation Faltering, But U.S. Commanders See Broader Danger Ahead by W.J. Hennigan – Los Angeles Times
U.S. airstrikes across eastern Syria have hobbled Islamic State's deadly drone program, U.S. officials say, but commanders warn that proliferation of the inexpensive technology may allow terrorist groups to launch other aerial attacks around the globe.
U.S.-backed fighters have reported small drones flown by the militants seven times this month in Iraq and Syria as Islamic State struggles to maintain the crumbling borders of its self-declared caliphate, according to the U.S. military task force in Baghdad.
That’s down from more than 60 drone sightings earlier this year, especially during the battle for the Iraqi city of Mosul, which was liberated in early July. Dozens of Iraqis were killed or wounded by 40-millimeter grenades and light explosives dropped from remote-controlled devices that one U.S. commander likened to killer bees.
The use of camera-equipped quadcopters and model-plane-sized drones, sometimes flying in swarms, had become a signature tactic of Islamic State, much as the growing U.S. fleet of large missile firing Predator and Reaper drones have changed the face of modern warfare.
Islamic State had a separate division to purchase the drones from commercial websites and other sources in China, India and Turkey, according to U.S. officials. Engineers in Islamic State upgraded the power systems so the devices could fly longer and drop crude munitions on opposing forces.
Over the last two months, U.S. warplanes have destroyed several Islamic State drone depots, machine workshops and pilot schools…