Islamic State Drones Terrorize Iraqi Forces as Mosul Battle Rages

As they advance into Islamic State’s remaining urban stronghold of west Mosul, Iraqi forces are struggling to counter the terror caused by the militant group’s drones.

Iraqi forces have grown accustomed to enemy drones flying over the battlefield since Islamic State seized swaths of the country in 2014. They have used rifle fire and high-tech gadgets to counter them, and even have drones of their own.

But the militants have fine-tuned their drone technology. What were once improvised, remote-controlled aircraft resembling model planes are now commercially available quadcopters—drones with four helicopter-like blades—that have been retrofitted to carry grenades that can be dropped over targets.

Islamic State’s increased drone usage comes as army officials said Sunday they had retaken their first neighborhood west of the Tigris River, raising the Iraqi flag there. The battle for the west is the final step in the offensive to drive the militant group from Iraq’s second-largest city.

The military last week seized the northern city’s sprawling international airport, giving it a foothold into Mosul’s densely packed western neighborhoods. Over the weekend, troops pushed deeper into those areas, led by special-forces units. The army also said it had seized control of Mosul’s main power station.