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UK to Use Drones for Surveillance Missions in Syria: Defense Secretary

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The United Kingdom will deploy drones in Syria to gather intelligence during surveillance missions, UK Defense Secretary Michael Fallon said in a statement Tuesday.

LONDON, October 21 (RIA Novosti) – The United Kingdom will deploy drones in Syria to gather intelligence during surveillance missions, UK Defense Secretary Michael Fallon said in a statement Tuesday.

"UK Reaper remotely piloted aircraft systems and Rivet Joint aircraft will be authorised to fly surveillance missions over Syria," Fallon said.

"The deployment will see the Royal Air Force aircraft gathering intelligence as the UK ramps up efforts to protect our national interests from the terrorist threat emanating the country," he added.

The defense secretary also noted that Reapers will not be authorized to use weapons in Syria and "will provide vital situational awareness making it an invaluable asset to the coalition allies who are combating ISIL [Islamic State]."

On October 16, Fallon announced the deployment of Reapers for surveillance and reconnaissance purposes in Iraq. On the same day, UK Foreign Secretary Philip Hammond said the country was also planning to contribute significantly to the US-led effort training the Syrian opposition to fight Islamic State (IS).

The IS, also known as the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL), has been fighting the Syrian government since 2012 and in June 2014 launched attacks in northern and western Iraq declaring the establishment of an Islamic caliphate on the territories under its control. In an attempt to stop the extremist group, the United States set up an international coalition that has been conducting airstrikes on IS positions since September.

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