US forces shoot down ‘Iran-manufactured’ drone in Syria

US forces shoot down ‘Iran-manufactured’ drone in Syria

An Iranian-made drone was shot down by the US military in Syria on Tuesday, after reportedly conducting surveillance over a major oil site in north-eastern Syria, where US forces are stationed.

Around 900 US soldiers have been stationed in eastern Syria following the 2014-19 war against ISIS, assisting Kurdish militias who control territory along the Euphrates river valley, in an attempt to stop a resurgence of ISIS.

“On February 14th, at approximately 2.30pm local time, US forces in Syria engaged and shot down an Iranian-manufactured UAV attempting to conduct reconnaissance of Mission Support Site Conoco, a patrol base in north-east Syria,” said the US statement.

Iran-backed militias often target US forces in Iraq and Syria with a range of different drone types, from quadcopters rigged with explosives to larger, fixed-wing drones driven by a rear propeller and fitted with an explosive warhead, such as the Shahed-136.

The latter drone type has been sent to Russian forces fighting in Ukraine.

Most of the attacks in Iraq and Syria are detected and shot down, but the threat has been a vexing challenge for US forces because drones fly below most conventional radar systems.

The US has deployed a number of new systems in Iraq and Syria to defend against the threat, including the Coyote, which fires small explosive drones to intercept enemy unmanned aircraft.

Other systems include truck-mounted, high-powered microwave beams to damage the electronics of a drone, and even a laser weapon mounted on a Stryker armoured personnel carrier.

The Directed Energy Manoeuvre Short-Range Air Defence system consists of a 50 kilowatt laser mounted on the Stryker eight-wheeled armoured personnel carrier, and can even be configured to shoot down rockets and mortar bombs.

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