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Hezbollah using UAVs: What does this portend?

At times, small, little noticed events foreshadow significant changes. Recent reports that Hezbollah carried out drone attacks in Syria and Lebanon illustrate that point.

A little more than a week and a half ago, media outlets including Ynet News and CNN reported Hezbollah’s use of a UAV to attack Nusra Front positions in Syria. The Iranian news agency FARS claimed the strike killed twenty-three terrorists. A second strike, reported on The Aviationist, targeted individuals within Lebanon. It received less attention.

The immediate effects of Hezbollah’s drone capability (Jane’s notes Hamas has armed drones too) are relatively benign. The Israeli Air Force already operates under the assumption that its non-state enemies and state adversaries will increase their employment of UAVs.

What Hezbollah’s actions portend, however, is far more disturbing. These strikes suggests non-state actors are continuing to enhance their state-like military capabilities. It’s safe to assume this behavior will eventually extend to include criminal organizations and drug cartels. They also suggest that the relative stability of the Arab-Israeli conflict may come under increasing strain. The successful use of armed UAVs by Hezbollah may — by altering the actual or perceived dominance or Israel’s air defenses — alter calculations by regional leaders.