A predator drone was reportedly seen by both sides of the Syrian conflict hovering over Raqqa, Sryria, close to where U.S. special operations forces tried to rescue ISIS hostages last July.
ABC News reports that undated images taken and posted on social media websites by Syrian activists and ISIS supporters show what appears to be an unmanned aerial vehicle. U.S. officials, two current and one former, told ABC News that the drone appears to be the unarmed Predator drone. The drone most likely is being used on a surveillance mission.
“Raqqa Is Being Slaughtered” activists took some of the photos of the drone and claimed that the drone spent three hours over Raqqa city from noon until about 3 p.m. local time, and two ISIS fighters kept watch on the drone on a public street before they took off on a 4×4.
It is unknown who has command over the drone. ABC News reports that the United States has air bases relatively near Raqqa.
According to Asian News International, President Barack Obama authorized the use of drones for surveillance missions in Syria without President Bashar al-Assad’s permission. President Bashar al-Assad demands that the U.S. ask for permission before launching airstrikes against ISIS in Syrian territory.
Various reports claim that the Pentagon has sent manned aircraft and unmanned drones reconnaissance flights in Syrian airspace.
Also on Saturday, at least 25 people were dead when Syrian forces launched air attacks on an Islamic State-run bakery and other militant targets in Raqqa, according to Vice News. The death toll is expected to rise from the Syrian airstrikes.
Three children and eight family members were killed in the bakery, along with nine members of the ISIS extremist group.
The biggest ISIS training facility and other places used as an Islamic court were also struck by Syrian missiles. The Syrian military has upped its airstrikes against the militants since August because Syrian troops were forced out the area by the insurgents.
On Saturday, the violence continued when an ISIS commander claimed that ISIS had beheaded a second Lebanese soldier. This is the second soldier to be killed by ISIS within a week.
According to Vice News, the U.S. is considering military attacks on the core of ISIS hotbeds in Syria, even though President Obama has been trying to stay out of Syria’s civil war since it started in 2011.
The Syrian President has previously asked for help in fighting ISIS with hesitation from Western leaders, but perhaps the reported sighting of the drone indicates he may not be fighting the militants alone for long.
[Images via ABC News, Vahid Salemi/AP]