Myanmar's resistance fighters notched decisive breakthroughs last year by relying on a scattered fleet of drones in battles against one of Southeast Asia's most feared militaries.

But as the civil war grinds on, the rebels increasingly find their familiar weapons — Chinese-made commercial drones modified to carry arms — in the unfamiliar hands of the country's ruling junta, according to seven people with knowledge of the matter.

"The battle is changing now as drones are being used by both sides," said a 31-year-old rebel fighter in the country's southeast, identifying himself by the nom de guerre of Ta Yoke Gyi. He said the junta began using armed unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs) to attack the rebels at around the turn of the year, and that a drone his unit recently shot down was identified as Chinese from its components and had been modified for combat. Two rebel fighters in other parts of Myanmar also described similar skirmishes.