The Russian military purportedly used a loitering munition, also known as kamikaze drone, to blow up a pickup truck carrying ammunition in Syria. The vehicle belonged to the Turkistan Islamic Party (TIP), an Al-Qaeda affiliated terrorist group.
The video of the vehicle that had gone up in flames following the drone strike was widely shared on social media.
The incident was reported from Tuffahiyeh in the northern Latakia countryside on February 11. The suicide drone launched by the Russian troops hit the vehicle, setting it on fire. However, there is no confirmation from the Russian side.
No casualties were reported by the terrorist organization as well. The TIP does not generally acknowledge its losses in Syria as most of its fighters are Chinese Uyghurs.
استهداف بيك اب بواسطة طائرة انتحارية
على محور التفاحية pic.twitter.com/uKZCR8tY5f
— همام عيسى (@humam_isa) February 11, 2021
The Russian military’s intervention in Syria started in September 2015 a year after the US troops left the country. The Government of Syria had then sought Moscow’s assistance in its fight against rebel groups.
In 2020, a series of airstrikes were launched targeting positions of militants and equipment in different areas of the north-western Syrian region of greater Idlib.
Loitering munitions, often called kamikaze or suicide drones, are purpose-built attack drones with explosives inside them. These often detonate in the vicinity of the target and are more accurate than unguided or guided purpose-built munitions (like missiles).
Loitering munitions work better in case of complex and smaller manoeuvering targets. The main feature of these loitering munitions is that they can be retrieved and reused in case the target is not engaged and can be used purely for surveillance duties like a regular UAV.
Loitering munitions — both commercial and military ones — were extensively used in Syria by all sides. The Islamic State fighters acquired commercial drones, fitted them with explosives, and launched attacks on rival factions.
The main advantage of small drones is that they are harder to detect with conventional radars, and can pose a major security risk to military installations. They are even harder to shoot down than conventional high-altitude aerial vehicles.