On July 18 morning, three suicide drones targeted the Watad Petroleum Company in the town of Saramada in the northwestern Syrian region of Greater Idlib.
Watad, which has a monopoly over the fuel market in Greater Idlib, is known to be owned by al-Qaeda-affiliated Hay’at Tahrir al-Sham (HTS). The company is heavily involved in oil trafficking with neaby Turkish-occupied areas in northern Aleppo and responsible for the illegal import of fuel from Turkey. The company’s profits are one of HTS’ main income sources.
The HTS news agency Iba’a confirmed that the drones struck the headquarters of the company as well as its fuel market. The agency claimed that the strikes didn’t result in any human or material losses.
Activists in Greater Idlib shared a photo showing one of the three suicide drones a few seconds before they hit Watad’s headquarters. The drone, which had an X-shaped wing design, was not seen before in Syria or any other place.
Some experts noted that the design of the mysterious drone is similar to that of the Hero family of loitering munitions made by Israel’s UVision. The drone may be a Russian, Syrian or Iranian reverse-engineered copy of the munitions.
This was the second such attack on Watad. On June 7, suicide drones targeted a number of the company’s facilities in Sarmada.
The drone attack may have been a response to the recent provocations by HTS and its Turkish-backed allies in Greater Idlib. The region’s militants are not respecting the March 5 Russian-Turkish agreement.