The Russian military has reportedly been disrupting U.S. military drones in Syria by scrambling their signals amid fears that Washington would launch a retaliation airstrike after a suspected chemical attack in Syria.
U.S President Donald Trump warned on Monday of a quick and forceful response to the reported killing of at least 60 people in an alleged chemical attack in the Syrian town of Douma. Syrian President Bashar Assad on Tuesday invited international inspectors to investigate the site of the suspected attack, while Russia said it would submit a UN Security Council resolution for international inspectors to visit Douma.
On Tuesday, NBC News cited four U.S. officials as saying that Russia began jamming the GPS systems of small unmanned surveillance aircraft several weeks ago. Russia reportedly scrambled U.S. drone signals to prevent retaliation for suspected chemical weapons attacks on civilians.
Although the Pentagon declined to say whether the jamming caused American drones to crash, one unnamed U.S. official reportedly confirmed that it had an operational impact on military actions in Syria.
The officials said the sophisticated jamming equipment proved effective against some encrypted signals and anti-jamming receivers, according to NBC News.
Fears of an imminent attack were underscored after the White House reportedly announced Trump would skip an overseas trip this week to “oversee the American response to Syria.”
Adding to the volatile situation, Iran, Assad's main ally along with Russia, threatened to respond to an airstrike on a Syrian military base on Monday that Tehran, Damascus and Moscow have blamed on Israel.
Reuters contributed reporting to this article.