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Russia is jamming U.S. drone signals in Syria, officials say

The proxy war in Syria is apparently reaching new heights.

Russia has been causing U.S. drones in the country to malfunction by blocking GPS signals for several weeks, officials say.

Smaller U.S. drones operating in Syria for surveillance are reportedly being targeted by a kind of cyberattack by the Russian military, NBC News reports. Drones depend on GPS signals and receivers, which can be jammed "fairly easily," an expert said. Blocking satellite signals can cause drones to malfunction or crash.

Russians reportedly believed that the U.S. would retaliate for a suspected chemical attack on Syrian civilians, which American officials believe was carried out by Syrian President Bashar al-Assad, an ally of Russian President Vladimir Putin. In hopes of staving off the U.S. counterpunch, Russia began jamming the drone signals.

One official told NBC News that the interference has been hampering U.S. military operations and that the technology used by Russia was advanced enough to scramble even encrypted signals and anti-jamming receivers.

A Defense Department spokesperson did not confirm the malfunctions, telling NBC News that the military "maintains sufficient countermeasures and protections to ensure the safety of our manned and unmanned aircraft, our forces and the missions they support." Read more at NBC News.