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U.S. confirms drone overflights in Gaza in support of hostage rescue efforts

The United States has confirmed for the first time that it flew unarmed surveillance drones over Gaza. Pentagon spokesman Brigadier General Pat Ryder said the drone operations were “in support of hostage rescue efforts.”

The drone flights began after Hamas’ Oct. 7 attack on Israel,” he said in a brief statement.

The journalists only admitted this after the drones (UAVs) were spotted on a flight-tracking website.

A Pentagon statement on Friday said, “The United States is conducting unarmed drone flights over Gaza and providing advice and assistance in support of our Israeli partners’ hostage rescue efforts.”

The Pentagon confirmed the news after journalists spotted MQ-9 Reaper aircraft, usually operated by U.S. Special Forces, flying over Gaza on Flightradar24, a publicly available flight-tracking website.

U.S. confirms drone overflights in Gaza in support of hostage rescue efforts

“Reaper” drones have been deployed to Afghanistan for air strikes, but are mainly used as reconnaissance aircraft because they are able to “hover” over an area for more than 20 hours.

U.S. military officials, who asked not to be identified, told The New York Times that the drones do not help coordinate Israeli military operations in and around Gaza. The officials told the New York Times that information related to the hostage rescue was being passed on to the Israelis.

Impact.

The deployment of U.S. drones in Gaza is a significant development, as it marks the first U.S. military engagement in the region since August 2021, when U.S. forces withdrew from Afghanistan.

The move could be seen as support for Israel and a warning to Hamas. It could also raise concerns in other regional countries such as Iran and Syria.

It is not yet known how long the U.S. drones will remain over Gaza or what role they will play in the ongoing hostage rescue operation. However, their deployment is a clear indication that the US is prepared to take a more active role in the region if necessary.

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