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Turkey Deploys Sophisticated Killer Drone Swarms in Syria

AAN- Paul Crespo

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Turkey Deploys Sophisticated Killer Drone Swarms in Syria

Turkey just demonstrated a new level of military sophistication in Syria. As part of its retaliatory strikes against Russian-backed Syrian forces for their attacks last week that killed 33 Turkish soldiers, Turkish forces launched coordinated waves of killer drones against their targets. These medium-altitude Unmanned Aerial Vehicles (UAVs), similar to U.S. Air Force Reaper drones, struck Syrian forces around the city of Idlib. 

The National Interest notes that the Turkish military operates about “130 armed drones of several types, including five versions of the Anka plus the Karayel and the Bayraktar TB2. All can carry small, precision-guided missiles.”

As reported by the South China Morning Post, Turkish military sources claimed dozens of remotely controlled drones targeted Syrian bases and chemical warfare depots, and Russian-made Syrian anti-aircraft missile batteries. Turkey deployed electronic jammers before it launched the drone strikes as part of its “Spring Shield” campaign.

The Turkish Defense Ministry posted a series of videos on Twitter showing Syrian tanks and artillery being destroyed in apparent drone attacks. “That’s something only Israel had been recorded publicly to have done until now,” said Charles Lister at the Middle East Institute, referring to video footage taken by a Turkish drone allegedly showing the destruction of a Syrian army air-defense system. In a combined arms, coordinated strategy, Turkey is waging an “air campaign run entirely by armed drones backed up” by heavy rocket artillery, he added.

David Axe of The National Interest adds that Russian forces arrived in Syria in 2015 to bolster Syrian President Bashar al-Assad, and have “deployed sophisticated defenses against rebels’ drones, including radars, short-range guns and missiles and radio-jammers that can disrupt drones’ command signals and data-links.”

These Russian air defenses have proved effective against small, commercial drones deployed by Syrian rebels, but these drone strikes are raising doubts about their effectiveness against Turkey’s larger, faster, and more heavily armed drones. Ironically, NATO member Turkey provoked tensions with the United States by insisting on purchasing advanced Russian S-400 anti-aircraft missiles last year from Russia, over strong US objections.

Meanwhile, the possibility of direct conflict between Turkey and Russia in Syria grows.

Paul Crespo is a national security expert and communications consultant. As an officer in the US Marine Corps, he served as a military attaché with the Defense Intelligence Agency (DIA) at several US embassies worldwide. Paul was also an Adjunct Professor of Political Science at the University of Miami and a member of the Miami Herald Editorial Board. He holds degrees from Georgetown, London, and Cambridge Universities. Paul is CEO of SPECTRE Global Risk, a security consultancy, and a Contributor to American Defense News.