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US Downed ISIS Drone, And It Definitely Won’t Be The Last Time

The U.S. launched its first airstrike against a small-scale, Islamic State drone earlier this week, and this definitely won’t be the last time.

Islamic State fighters flew the unarmed, unmanned aircraft for 20 minutes near the Iraqi city of Fallujah, says Commander Elissa Smith, a public affairs officer for the Pentagon. After the drone was placed in a vehicle, U.S. warplanes bombed it.

The unmanned aircraft may have been purchased on the Internet or off the shelf in Iraq, according to defense officials who spoke to The Daily Caller News Foundation. It wasn’t a military drone, yet it could have helped the Islamic State obtain aerial views and gather data.

Although there are significant differences in levels of sophistication, unmanned aircraft — once exotic — has become normalized in warfare. All sides in the current conflict in Iraq and Syria have used the technology, says Peter Singer, a security expert and strategist for the New America Foundation.

The U.S. will definitely be seeing this type of incident again, he adds.

Unconfirmed reports indicate the Islamic State has been flying unmanned aircraft around Mosul, according to Army Maj. Kim Michelsen, a spokesman for the Combined Joint Task Force-Operation Inherent Resolve. But this was the first Islamic State drone “we’ve seen with our own eyes,” says Michelsen.

The Islamic State has been posting footage allegedly obtained by drones since at least August of 2014. One of the earliest known videos showed surveillance of a Syrian military base near Raqqa, a city in northern Syria. The Islamic State purportedly used the footage to plan its attack on the base that same month. But Singer says the footage and the attack are not definitively related.

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