Open source information on non-state actors weapon arsenal is difficult to glean due to their lack of transparency. MilitaryEdge.org has created broad categories, when necessary, of non-state actors weaponry to provide a general sense of capabilities.
In recent years, Hamas, Hezbollah, and the Islamic State have attempted to develop drone programs.
During the summer war with Hamas in 2014, the Gaza-based terrorist group flew a medium-sized UAV into Israeli airspace which was quickly shot down by an Israeli Patriot missile system. In video released by Hamas after the incident, the drone, which Hamas calls the ‘Ababil 1,’ appears to be homemade with four small rockets that are never launched. Israeli defense officials speculate that Hamas possesses more but referred to them as “model airplanes’ implying that they are relatively unsophisticated.
In November 2012, Israel targeted Hamas’ UAV infrastructure in the Gaza Strip. The Israeli Air Force “inflicted severe damage to Hamas’ UAV infrastructure,” the Israel Defense Forces stated.
Since 2002, Hezbollah has been in the possession of drones. According to Israeli media reports, Hezbollah has recently taken steps to enhance its UAV arsenal, much of which is believed to be variants of the Iranian Ababil drone.
The exact size of Hezbollah’s drone fleet is unclear. A recent report in the Israeli media suggested Hezbollah had 200. However, in 2009, Israeli officials told their American counterparts that they assessed that Hezbollah had only “several” Ababil drones. And, in 2006, an Israeli expert suggested Hezbollah had no more than 30 Ababil drones.
Over the past decade, Hezbollah has sent drones on a couple of occasions into Israeli airspace. For example, in 2004, Hezbollah sent an Iranian-made drone into Israeli territory. The following year, another Hezbollah drone entered Israeli airspace. And, during the 2006 war between Israel and Hezbollah, a number of Hezbollah drones were eliminated by Israel.
In October 2012, the Israeli Air Force shot down a Hezbollah drone that was flying over the northern Negev. Following the incident, the Secretary-General of Hezbollah, Hassan Nasrallah, said, “It is our natural right to send other reconnaissance flights inside occupied Palestine…. This is not the first time and will not be the last. We can reach any place we want.”
Hezbollah may have successfully used an armed drone in August 2016, when footage emerged of what appears to be a small quad-copter dropped grenade-sized munitions on Syrian rebel positions. While fairly crude, the method appears to utilize abundantly available artillery sub-munitions and commercially sold UAVs to conduct lethal attacks.
Islamic State (ISIS)
In August 2014, the Islamic State released a video displaying what appears to be drone surveillance footage from over a Syrian military base in Raqqa governorate. Though the actual drone cannot be seen, it appears to be a small quadcopter which are common on the civilian marketplace. Though the Islamic State has not declared owning more drones, given their low cost and high availability, it is likely that more small surveillance UAVs are in their possession.
Reports emerged in December 2015, that ISIS was packing small tactical UAVs with explosives to use as improvised suicide drones. It was not until October 2016 that one of these explosive-packed UAVs successfully was used by the terror group, killing two Iraqi Kurdish fighters and wounding two French special operation advisors.
An unarmed Iranian drone buzzed an American Super Hornet fighter jet as it circled an aircraft carrier in the Persian Gulf, Defense Department officials said on Tuesday. A statement released by the military’s Central Command said that despite repeated radio calls demanding that Iran keep the drone clear of American flight operations in the vicinity of the […]
A prominent Turkish newspaper has demanded the eviction of U.S. troops and warplanes from Incirlik Air Base as fallout there worsens from the Trump administration’s controversial move to arm a Kurdish militia fighting the Islamic State in neighboring Syria. In a front-page editorial published Friday, the newspaper Sozcu called for Incirlik’s complete closure. It’s an […]
More details on the military base that Turkey has established in Qatar were revealed when a Turkish general disclosed to a parliamentary commission that up to 600 troops will be deployed there. Brigadier General Ihsan Bulbul, deputy undersecretary of the Turkish Ministry of National Defence, told parliament’s Foreign Affairs Commission on 4 May that a […]
Today (9 May 2017) marks another important step in the consolidation of NATO’s support to Iraqi security institutions in strengthening their capabilities in the fight against terrorism. NATO trainers and advisors and Iraqi high ranking officers have concluded a three day-workshop designed to enhance Iraqi leadership and training skills in the domains of countering improvised […]
Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi is in talks with the Trump administration to keep American troops in Iraq after the fight against the Islamic State group in the country is concluded, according to a U.S. official and an official from the Iraqi government. Both officials underlined that the discussions are ongoing and that nothing is finalized. […]
Iran will provide military advisers to Syria for as long as necessary in support of President Bashar al Assad’s forces, a senior commander in the Iranian Revolutionary Guards was quoted on Tuesday as saying. Iran has provided military support to Assad’s forces since at least 2012, but initially did not comment publicly on its role. […]
The United Arab Emirates is better known for its skyscrapers and pampered luxuries, but its small size belies a quiet expansion of its battle-hardened military into Africa and elsewhere in the Middle East. The seven-state federation ranks as one of Washington’s most prominent Arab allies in the fight against the Islamic State group, hosting some […]
American forces have started patrolling the Turkey-Syria border to prevent further clashes between Turkish troops and Kurdish fighters, which could undermine the fight against Islamic State, U.S. officials said Friday. The patrols are part of a far-reaching American effort to prevent the rival forces from targeting each other as the U.S. prepares to launch a major […]
President Donald Trump has authorized Secretary of Defense Jim Mattis to set troop levels in Iraq and Syria without White House approval, the Pentagon confirmed Thursday. The switch gives the Pentagon more autonomy to determine how many forces are required in the fight against Islamic State. “The president has delegated authority to the secretary of […]
Israel is seeking an “understanding” with the Trump administration that Iran must not be allowed to establish a permanent military foothold in Syria, Israel’s intelligence minister told Reuters on Wednesday. In an interview, visiting Intelligence Minister Yisrael Katz said he was also using his meetings with White House officials and key lawmakers to press for […]
The Israel Defense Forces (IDF) reported February 23 that it had downed an unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV) over the Mediterranean after it was launched from the Gaza Strip. According to IDF sources, an Israeli F-16 shot down the UAV, which it said belonged to Hamas, before it was able to cross into the country’s airspace. […]
President Barack Obama, defending the recent Iran nuclear deal, or Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA), insists that his negotiators are providing an alternative to war. But the president is only referring to how the deal will defer a nuclear showdown. While that can is kicked down the road for decade, the agreement contains a […]
Weapons are pouring into the Middle East at an unprecedented rate. The Pentagon recently announced that it would sell six tilt-rotor Osprey aircraft to Israel for $1.3 billion, American hardware (including Apache helicopters) is being rushed to the Iraqi government to help in its battle against al Qaeda, and Washington has also restored military aid to Egypt after a brief hiatus. But Uncle […]