A source in the coalition fighting in support of Syrian President Bashar Assad’s regime said Hezbollah has confirmed using attack drones in the fight against the Islamic State terror group.
The Lebanese terror group used the drones to hit IS positions in the Qalamoun mountains, near the border with Lebanon, a military media unit linked to the Shiite terror organization said, according to Reuters.
Video said to be from the drone showed unguided bombs being dropped on a site in the mountains.
While the official told the news agency it was the first such confirmation from the Lebanon-based group, a media unit connected to Hezbollah posted video of what it said was a drone dropping bombs near Aleppo last year.
The video from last August appeared to show the unmanned aerial vehicle dropping cluster bombs on three Syrian rebel positions, in support of the Syrian regime in the countryside surrounding Aleppo.
While Hezbollah, along with some other terrorist groups, has been known to operate pilotless drones for reconnaissance purposes or in kamikaze-style strikes for over a decade, the video from last year was the first visual evidence that the Iran-backed organization has used UAVs capable of carrying out bombings.
The group has claimed to have this capability for nearly three years. In September 2014, the Iranian Fars news site reported: “Hezbollah drones for the first time bombed the headquarters of the terrorist al-Nusra Front at Lebanon’s border with Syria, killing and wounding tens of the terrorists.”
Iran first outfitted the Shiite group with drones back in 2002. Three years later, Hezbollah used one of those UAVs, a Persian model known as an Ababil, to enter Israeli airspace and conduct a reconnaissance mission, much to the chagrin of the Israeli Air Force.
Hezbollah’s confirmation of using an attack drone came as the terror group and the Syrian army launched an operation to clear IS fighters from the Syrian side of the border. Hezbollah has been fighting in Syria alongside Assad’s forces since 2013.
The offensive was launched as the Lebanese Armed Forces began an operation to uproot IS from areas in Lebanon along the border under the terror group’s control.
Judah Ari Gross and AP contributed to this report.