Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques Congratulates President of Federal Republic of Germany on Unity Day    Saudi Arabia to Host 25th World Petroleum Congress in 2026    Tadawul All Share Index Decreases by 0.79%, Equity Market Capitalization Reaches SAR 10,832.85 Billion at End of 1st Nine Months 2022    Asian Shares Mostly Lower    Weather Forecast for Monday    KSrelief Concludes the 11th, 12th Volunteer Program in Zaatari Camp for Syrian Refugees in Jordan    Saudi Arabia, UK explore increased trade, investment opportunities Keaveny arrives in Riyadh in first visit as Lord Mayor of London    King Salman receives written message from Azerbaijan president    Prince Abdulaziz Al-Faisal to Head Saudi Delegation to Olympic Council of Asia Meetings in Cambodia    Recycling by 2035 will contribute to an annual income of SR120 billion    18 new benefit added to health insurance policy    Dr. Khalid Al-Sabti, a techy savvy leader, taking ETEC to new heights KAUST workshop on 'Basics of AI' begins at ETEC    Global philosophers to discuss science and philosophy in 2nd Riyadh Conference in December    King, Crown Prince congratulate Guinea president on Independence Day    Jail, fine for citizens involved in forging official documents of a Saudi embassy    Al-Manea: Selling gold in installments is not permissible    Saudi Stock Exchange Main Index Ends Trading Higher at 11,487 Points    MAWANI, Tabadul Sign MoU to Develop New Saudi Ports Management Systems    Saudi Arabia to Host 14th General Assembly Meeting of ARABOSAI    174 dead in Indonesian football stadium crush    Brazil polarized as Bolsonaro seeks re-election and Lula aims for comeback    Vehicle Overturn Kills 26, Injures 10 in India    At Least 127 People Killed, 180 Injured at Football Match in Indonesia    King Charles will not attend COP27, says Palace    Morocco's King congratulates Mohammed bin Salman on becoming Saudi PM    UN chief condemns any attempt to seize power by the force of arms    Saudi Arabia gets four memberships in IOC commissions    Al-Khuwaitm turns in golden display in Girls Gymnastics Championship in Riyadh    15 cups of Saudi coffee in a day are enough!    Riyadh hosts first Saudi Games on Oct. 27    19 women, 2 men qualify as Kingdom's first yogasana referees    Movies return to Kashmir with Hrithik Roshan-starrer    Body of famed US climber found on Mt Manaslu in Himalayas    Yoga introduced to Saudi universities    Islamic Minister Al-Sheikh: Juristic judgment catalyst to salvage Islamic Ummah    Culinary Arts Commission Registers 13 Foods on Slow Food List of Endangered Food    72% of Children Globally have been Victims of Cyber Threats    Saudi National Football Team Continues Preparations for Friendly Match against Ecuador    Saudi Futsal Team Beats San Marino, Wins Silver in Croatian International Championship    During 2nd Global AI Summit.. AI-powered Early Breast Cancer Detection Program Launched    Triple talaq: India Muslim women in limbo after instant divorce ruling    Film Commission Reviews Film Industry Prospects in Saudi Arabia at Venice International Film Festival    Saudi national volleyball team loses to Kyrgyzstan in Asian Challenge Cup final    Saudi national volleyball team beats Uzbekistan, qualifies for the final of the Asian Challenge Cup    Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques Delivers Speech to Pilgrims, Citizens, Residents and Muslims around the World    Sheikh Al-Issa in Arafah's Sermon: Allaah Blessed You by Making It Easy for You to Carry out This Obligation. Thus, Ensure Following the Guidance of Your Prophet    Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques addresses citizens and all Muslims on the occasion of the Holy month of Ramadan    Pilgrims Perform Dhuhr and Asr Prayers at Arafat Holy Site    







Thank you for reporting!
This image will be automatically disabled when it gets reported by several people.



From Iraq to Yemen, drones raise US alarm over Iranian plans
Published in The Saudi Gazette on 17 - 07 - 2019

The increased use of drones by Iran and its allies for surveillance and attacks across the Middle East is raising alarms in Washington.
The United States believes that Iran-linked militia in Iraq have recently increased their surveillance of American troops and bases in the country by using off-the-shelf, commercially available drones, US officials say.
The disclosure comes at a time of heightened tensions with Iran and underscores the many ways in which Tehran and the forces it backs are increasingly relying on unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs) in places like Yemen, Syria, the Strait of Hormuz and Iraq.
Beyond surveillance, Iranian drones can drop munitions and even carry out "a kamikaze flight where they load it up with explosives and fly it into something", according to a US official who spoke on condition of anonymity.
Yemen's Iranian-backed Houthis have significantly increased their UAV attacks in recent months, bombing airports and oil facilities in Saudi Arabia.
Last month, Iran came close to war with the United States after the Islamic Republic's unprecedented shoot-down of a US drone with a surface-to-air missile, a move that nearly triggered retaliatory strikes by US President Donald Trump.
Trump withdrew from a major 2015 nuclear deal last year and reimposed sanctions to cut off Iran's oil exports and pressure the Islamic Republic to negotiate over its ballistic missile program and regional policy.
The increased use of drones by Iran or its regional allies is a strategy aimed at pushing back and defending against pressure from the United States and regional rivals, current and former security officials and analysts say.
Iran now flies two or three drones over Gulf waters every day, the first US official estimated, making it a core part of Tehran's effort to monitor the Strait of Hormuz, through which one fifth of the world's oil consumption flows.
The United States and Saudi Arabia have accused Iran of carrying out attacks against six oil tankers near the Strait in the past two months, a claim Tehran has denied.
The US officials, who spoke on condition of anonymity, declined to quantify the extent to which surveillance near US forces has increased in Iraq or to specify which militia were carrying it out.
"We have seen an uptick in drone activity in Iraq near our bases and facilities," the first official said. "Certainly the drones that we have seen are more of the commercial off-the-shelf variant. So they're obviously a deniable type UAV-activity in Iraq."
A second official said the recent increase in surveillance was worrying but acknowledged Iran-linked militia in Iraq had a history of keeping tabs on Americans.
Reuters has previously reported that the United States has indirectly sent warnings to Iran, saying any attack against US forces by proxy organizations in Iraq will be viewed by Washington as an attack by Iran itself.
In recent weeks, mortars and rockets have been fired at bases in Iraq where US forces are located but no American troops have been injured. US officials did not link those attacks to the increased surveillance.
Attempts to reach the Iranian ministry of foreign affairs and the Revolutionary Guards, who are most closely linked to militant groups in Iraq, for comment were unsuccessful.
Iraqi militia groups linked to Iran began using drones in 2014 and 2015 in battles to retake territory from Daesh (the so-called IS), according to militia members and Iraqi security officials.
These groups received training on the use of drones from members of Iran's Revolutionary Guards and Lebanon's Iranian-backed Hezbollah, two Iraqi security officials with knowledge of militia activities said.
"Key militia groups have the ability to launch aerial attacks using drones. Will they target American interests? That hasn't happened yet," said one Iraqi security official. "They used Katyusha and mortars in very restricted attacks against American interests in Iraq to send a message rather than trying to inflict damage. Using explosive-laden drones is very possible once we have a worsening situation between Tehran and Washington."
In March, Iran boasted about a complex military exercise involving 50 drones. In a slickly edited video aired on state TV, waves of drones streak across a clear blue sky, bombing buildings on an island in the Gulf.
The show of force was intended to highlight Iran's locally developed UAV program, which it has been building up for several years.
Douglas Barrie, a senior fellow at the London-based International Institute for Strategic Studies, however, cautioned that some of Iran's claims were "best viewed through the prism of domestic messaging". "That Iran has a growing capability in UAVs isn't debatable. What is an open question is the actual levels of technology it often employs," Barrie said, adding that Israel had the most advanced program in the region.
American technology may have been used to enhance the Iranian drone program: an advanced US RQ-170 Sentinel reconnaissance drone went down in eastern Iran in 2011, and Revolutionary Guards commanders say they were able to reverse engineer it, a claim which some security officials and analysts dispute.
"They've really come up with some aircraft which are looking increasingly sophisticated in terms of their ability to carry guided weapons and carry out long range surveillance missions," said Jeremy Binnie, Middle East and Africa editor for Jane's Defense Weekly.
US forces have shot down Iranian-made drones in 2017 in Syria, after deeming them a threat to both US-backed forces and their advisers.
Iran has passed on its drones and technical expertise to regional allies, current and former security officials and analysts say.
The Revolutionary Guards and Hezbollah advise the Houthis on the use of drones and operate video uplinks from Tehran and Beirut to beam in technical expertise when needed, an official from the Saudi-led coalition fighting in Yemen said.
A commander of Kataib Hezbollah, an Iraqi militia closely linked to Iran, using the nickname Abu Abdullah, said in 2014 that Iran had provided training for operating drones, which were mostly used to target Daesh positions.
He said at the time that they had also used the drones to carry out surveillance on American military positions in Iraq and in the conflict in Syria, where Kataib Hezbollah fought in support of President Bashar Assad.
Iraqi militia groups have now acquired enough expertise to modify drones for attacks, two Iraqi security officials with knowledge of the militia activities said. — Reuters


Clic here to read the story from its source.