Neither Israel nor the US intervened when Iran broke new strategic ground on Monday, Oct. 1 by sending a squadron of 11 stealth UAVs to attack ISIS in E. Syria. DEBKAfile: The attack drones were greater cause for concern than the six surface missiles the Revolutionary Guards launched from their base in Kermanshah in western Iran. Like the missiles, the assault drones cut through Iraqi air space to their targets in Syria, without asking Baghdad for permission; but, unlike the missiles, they also returned to home base by the same route unhindered. Not a single Israeli or American aircraft took to the air stop them.
Therefore, not only is Iran continuing to establish a military presence in Syria in defiance of Israel’s vow to pre-empt their effort – even in Iraq, its Revolutionary Guards have taken a step further and activated a stealth air force from their home base across two frontiers.
DEBKAfile’s military sources identified the UAVs as “Saeqehs” (Thunderbolts), a replica of the US RQ-170 Sentinel spy drone which the Iranians downed seven years ago and reconstructed with the help of Chinese engineers. Nine months ago, Israeli Air Force jets brought down an armed drone of this type over the Jordan Valley after it entered Jordanian airspace from Syria. Monday saw Iran deploying a full squadron of these super drones for their first operation. By this action, Tehran has demonstrated its capacity to launch missiles and attack drones from bases in Iran for air strikes against US targets in Syria, as well as Israel’s homeland. They are therefore a major menace to US interests in Syria and Iraq.