In a turnabout against the enemy, the Iraqi Security Forces fighting to retake Mosul have stolen a tactic from ISIS and begun using small drones carrying hand-grenade type munitions, the U.S. military confirmed Wednesday.
"They've turned the tables and begun using them themselves," Air Force Col. John Dorrian, a spokesman for Combined Joint Task Force-Operation Inherent Resolve, said of the ISF's recent acquisition of small commercial drones they have fitted to carry munitions in the fight against the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria.
Dorrian said the Iraqi drones are used to "take out snipers," target Vehicle Borne Improvised Explosive Devices, and "just sort of terrorize them" in the ongoing battle to retake West Mosul.
ISIS began using drones against Iraqi forces last year, mostly for surveillance but occasionally to drop munitions. Drone use by ISIS essentially peaked in February, when the militants were sending up to 15 daily against the ISF, according to Iraq officials.
The Iraqis sought to counter with ground fire, but ISIS' drone use began to wane when the U.S. and the ISF deployed vehicles with jammers to break up signals to the drones.
Iraqi generals told the Kurdish news agency Rudaw last month that what they call the "interference machine," or "parasite machine," has been used effectively to counter the small, commercial drones used by ISIS.
"The Americans have brought in a very advanced machine to the right bank of Mosul," or western Mosul, Maj. Gen. Najim al-Jabbouri said. "It is like a big vehicle. ISIS can no longer send even one drone into the sky."
Lt. Gen. Abdul Ghani al-Assadi, commander of the elite Iraqi Counterrorism Service (CTS) units, said the drone issue "has been resolved completely."
On one day in February, the CTS recorded 52 sorties by ISIS drones, al-Assadi said. "Then we used some machines, parasite machines. It became eight and five days before now, and until today, not even a single flight" as the CTS moved to recapture government buildings in West Mosul.