JERUSALEM – Israel released details on Tuesday about what it described as an Iranian "air force" deployed in neighboring Syria, including civilian planes suspected of transferring arms, a signal that these could be attacked should tensions with Tehran escalate. Iran, along with Damascus and its big-power backer Russia, blamed Israel for an April 9 airstrike on a Syrian air base, T-4, that killed seven Iranian Revolutionary Guards Corps (IRGC) members. Iranian officials have promised unspecified reprisals. Israeli media ran satellite images and a map of five Syrian air bases allegedly used to field Iranian drones or cargo aircraft, as well as the names of three senior IRGC officers suspected of commanding related projects, such as missile units. The information came from the Israeli military, according to a wide range of television and radio stations and news websites.
The Pentagon has revealed a new AI system designed to lead the hunt for Islamic State militants in Iraq and Syria. Codenamed Project Maven, it will analyse aerial surveillance video to look for patterns that can help operators. It comes as military bosses say the thousands of military and civilian intelligence analysts are'overwhelmed' by the amount of video being recorded over the battlefield by drones with high resolution cameras. A US Air Force MQ-9 Reaper unmanned aerial vehicle: Military bosses say intelligence analysts are'overwhelmed' by the amount of video being recorded over the battlefield by drones with high resolution cameras. 'We have to tackle the problem a different way,' Air Force Lt. Gen. John N.T.'Jack' Shanahan, director for defense intelligence for warfighter support, and the man tasked with finding the new technology, told Defense One.
DUBAI, UNITED ARAB EMIRATES – An unarmed Iranian drone shadowed a U.S. aircraft carrier at night and came close enough to F-18 fighter jets to put the lives of American pilots at risk, the Navy said Tuesday, reporting the second such tense encounter within a week. The Iranian Sadegh drone flew without any warning lights during the encounter Sunday night with the USS Nimitz, said Lt. Ian McConnaughey, a spokesman for the Bahrain-based 5th Fleet. The drone did not respond to repeated calls over the radio and came within 1,000 feet (300 meters) of U.S. fighters, he said. That "created a dangerous situation with the potential for collision and is not in keeping with international maritime customs and laws," McConnaughey said in a statement. The drone was unarmed, the lieutenant said, though that model can carry missiles.
MOSUL, IRAQ/SALAHIYAH IRAQ – Iraq's special forces worked Sunday to clear neighborhoods on the eastern edge of Islamic State-held Mosul as bombings launched by the extremist group elsewhere in the country killed at least 20 people. The Mosul offensive has slowed in recent days as Iraqi forces have pushed into more densely populated areas, where they cannot rely as much on airstrikes and shelling because of the risk posed to civilians, who have been told to stay in their homes. "There are a lot of civilians and we are trying to protect them," said Lt. Col. Muhanad al-Timimi. "This is one of the hardest battles that we've faced till now." Some civilians are fleeing the combat zone, while IS militants are holding others back for use as human shields, making it harder for Iraqi commanders on the ground to get approval for requested U.S.-led coalition airstrikes.
Militants firing from bombed-out buildings had ambushed a U.S.-backed militia on a rubble-strewn street in Raqqah, Islamic State's self-declared capital and one of its last urban strongholds. The militia was pinned down and their commander wanted the drone to take out the gunmen. The pilot studied the surveillance video streaming onto his screen. A captain, he instructed the staff sergeant at his side to set the drone's target sights and powered up a Hellfire missile under its wing. "Rifle," the pilot said and the missile soared away.