A branch of the Islamic State operating in Syria's Deir ez-Zor province released a video and images this week that appear to show a downed Syrian drone.
The Sunni Muslim group claims it shot down an unmanned aircraft belonging to the "crusader nusairi alliance." Nusairi is a derogatory term used to describe the Shiite or Alawite religious groups.
The craft in the images released January 18 and 19 appears to be an Iranian-built Ghods Mohajer-4 drone, employed primarily to spy on enemy positions and used widely by Syrian government forces since the country's civil war began in 2011.
Syria's President Bashar al-Assad is currently fighting a battle on two fronts against rebels seeking to overthrow his regime and the Islamic State, the militant group that has overrun vast areas of the country and seized more than a third of neighboring Iraq in recent months.
Deir ez-Zor lies on the edge of militant-controlled territory, and there has been strong pushback from local fighters and Assad's Syrian Arab Army (SAA) against the Islamic State insurgency, resulting in heavy fighting and casualties on all sides.
Earlier in the month, a video surfaced of SAA fighters purportedly "showing off" an armored vehicle allegedly captured from militants in the province.
Coalition forces, involving Western and Arab nations, have been conducting airstrikes with warplanes and drones in Syria since last September. The US has ruled out cooperating with Assad, whose regime has upscaled its own strikes against the militants since last summer.
Western governments are hesitant to support Assad, who has been criticized for routinely carrying out indiscriminate attacks, including the dropping of barrels packed with explosives that have killed scores of civilians. The regime has also been accused of launching a deadly chemical weapons attack against a rebel-held neighborhood in 2013.
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