Has Morocco Carried Out an Unprecedented Drone Strike on “Polisario”?

Experts believe that the recent announcement by the Sahrawi separatists that Morocco had launched a drone strike that killed one of their military leaders would, if confirmed, be a turning point in the decades-long conflict in the Sahara

Experts believe that the recent announcement by the Sahrawi separatists that Morocco had launched a drone strike that killed one of their military leaders would, if confirmed, be a turning point in the decades-long conflict in the Sahara

In a statement to “Agence France-Presse,” Moroccan political researcher Mohamed Chiker, who specializes in the affairs of the Moroccan armed forces, estimated that despite the “difficulty proving” the use of a drone, the scale of the operation that was carried out Wednesday “was unprecedented since the ceasefire” concluded in 1991 under the auspices of the United Nations.

In the absence of information from the Moroccan authorities, the circumstances, location, and manner of the attack remain unclear.

One thing is certain, the killing of the commander of the “national gendarmerie” in the separatist “Polisario” Front, Dah Al-Bendir, on Wednesday, during an operation by the Moroccan Armed Forces following an incursion by the Front’s forces, according to identical sources.

For his part, Moroccan military expert Abdelhamid Harifi confirmed that “Morocco does not officially possess armed drones,” but that “it possesses a group of unarmed drones that contain the latest technology.”

He further added, “In the region, Morocco is a pioneer in the use of drones to collect information and set targets.”

Therefore, the expert considers that “it is possible that the army used a similar drone to monitor suspicious movements in the buffer zone on Wednesday.”

Information transmitted by the Moroccan media indicates that three Harvang drones have been received by the end of 2020, in addition to submitting orders for Israeli Bluebird and American MQ-9B Sky Guardian drones, which seem to have not yet been delivered.

This information coincided with the announcement by the administration of former US President Donald Trump at the end of 2020 recognition of Morocco’s sovereignty over the Sahara.

Mohamed Chiker stresses that with or without drones, Morocco “militarily controls all regions of the Sahara and has an arsenal of weapons capable of striking any move by the Polisario front.”

In practice, Rabat has strengthened its military capabilities in the last two years, to advance from the 60th to 53rd rank in the world in the “Global Fire Power” classification for armies.

“Jeune Afrique” ​​magazine indicated at the end of 2020 that the Sahrawi separatists “are equipped with weapons that have changed little since the eighties and depend entirely on their Algerian patron to renew it.”

According to Far Maroc, an unofficial Facebook page of the Moroccan army, the Moroccan armed forces responded to “suspicious movements of Polisario leaders inside the buffer zones,” which led to “several deaths,” including the killing of the leader of the “National Gendarmerie” of the Polisario Front.

“Sahara News Agency” published a statement Thursday, which it later withdrew, announcing that the military commander was killed in the town of Tifariti, located in the northeastern desert area under the control of Polisario, as a result of a “military operation” behind the sand wall established by Morocco.

Several media outlets indicated that the “Polisario” attack and the Moroccan response took place in the town of Twizky in southern Morocco, near the border with Algeria.

The Moroccan army had recently erected its berm in that area, in which “Polisario” announced that it had killed “three Moroccan soldiers during an attack on February 8,” which Rabat did not confirm.

After nearly three decades of the ceasefire, armed clashes between the “Polisario” front and Morocco renewed in mid-November, after the deployment of Moroccan forces in the far south of the Sahara to end the blockade of traffic in the “Guergarat” border crossing between Morocco and Mauritania.

 

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