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SEPTEMBER 2020

U.S. Combat Drones Resume Operations Over Syria’s Greater Idlib Despite Recent Accident

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U.S. combat drones have resumed operations over the northwestern Syrian region of Greater Idlib, which is controlled by several terrorist groups.

A General Atomics MQ-9 Reaper unmanned combat aerial vehicle was photographed flying over the region on August 20. Opposition activities spotted several other U.S. combat drones flying over different parts of the region on the same day as well as on August 21.

The MQ-9 appeared to be armed with two AGM-114 Hellfire-type missiles. The drone was also equipped with two large pods, likely for communication or intelligence gathering.

On August 18, two MQ-9 drones crashed in Greater Idlib after colliding midair in a mysterious accident. Syrian sources claimed that Turkish air-defense fire was behind the accident. However, this is yet to be proven.

U.S. combat drones carried out a series of strikes on prominent terrorist commanders in Greater Idlib over the last few months.

The most recent strike, which took place on August 13, claimed the life of Abu Yahya al-Uzbeki, an infamous military trainer who worked for several terrorist groups in Greater Idlib.

U.S. combat drones often carry out its strikes on Greater Idlib with an advanced version of the Hellfire missile known as the AGM-114R9X “Ninja Bomb.” This version has a kinetic warhead consisting of pop-out blades meant to reduce collateral damage.

In the last few years, Greater Idlib became a safe haven for terrorist groups in the Middle East. ISIS leader, Abu Baker al-Baghdadi, was killed in a U.S. raid on the region earlier this year. Turkey which maintains a large force in the region is turning a blind eye.

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