Late on June 23, a Turkish Kargu loitering munition struck a position of the Kurdish-led Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) near the village of al-Safawiya in the northern countryside of Syria’s Raqqa.
Al-Safawiya is located to the east of the town of Ain Issa, the de-facto capital of the SDF’s Autonomous Administration of North and East Syria. The strike caused some material damage. However, no casualties were reported.
The Kargu loitering munition, which was designed by Turkey’s STM, has a maximum range of five kilometers and an endurance of 30 minutes. The munition can operate in a swarm and has AI [artificial intelligence] image processing capabilities with support for facial recognition.
The last few months saw an extensive use of Kargu munitions by the Turkish military against the SDF. On June 15, one such munition was shot down by SDF fighters near the town of Manbij in the northern countryside of Aleppo.
The new strike came amid preparations by the Turkish military and its proxies to launched a new large-scale operation against the SDF.
While President Recep Tayyip Erdogan said in a recent speech that the main targets of the operation will be Manbij and the nearby town of Tell Rifaat, some sources believe that the town of Kobane in the northeastern Aleppo countryside and Ain Issa may be also among the targets of the operation.
The SDF has been making defensive preparations. So does the Syrian Arab Army that maintains positions in several areas held by the group, including in Manbij, Tell Rifaat, Kobane and Ain Issa.