US-backed forces in Syria could use drones to hunt suspected Al Qaeda members
The US-led coalition supporting the Syrian opposition says it is looking to acquire drones to help track suspected Al Nusra Front militants and other extremists.
The coalition, which is backing the rebels with airpower and weapons, says it will seek unmanned aircraft to fly missions over remote areas in eastern Syria and to carry out surveillance of the battlefields for suspected Al-Qaeda operatives.
The coalition says it plans to buy a single drone and add additional capabilities later.
The United States has already been buying several types of drones for use by the Syrian National Coalition, the main opposition group.
It has previously bought a number of commercial drones for the United Nations, the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe, the United Arab Emirates and Turkey.
But the coalition says the acquisition of drones will be a differentiator for the U.S. in Syria.
The U.N. Security Council has approved a resolution authorizing the U,S.
and Russia to use their airpower to support the Syrian government, which has been fighting the Al Nsa, also known as Al Qaeda in Syria, in a three-year-old conflict.
In the past, the U.,S.
military and allies have flown drone strikes against Al Nsb.
Russian President Vladimir Putin said the deployment of drones to Syria was a step toward establishing “new, effective capabilities” that would allow the coalition to hunt down terrorists.
“We will have to wait and see whether the drones will come from Russia, China, Saudi Arabia, the Emirates or even from the Uighurs or other groups with whom we have no relationship,” Putin said in a televised interview on Sunday.
Russia has already supplied the coalition with some of the drones, which it said are not meant to carry missiles.
U.S.-led forces in the war have so far captured only about 10 percent of the territory held by Al Ns, which have fought alongside other Syrian rebels to oust Assad.
The Syrian army has captured some other parts of Syria, but its forces have been driven back by rebels backed by Western powers and regional allies.