Senior Syria militant killed by US sword-filled ‘ninja bomb’
According to reports, the strike in northwestern Idlib province, an area controlled by Al-Qaeda offshoot HTS, used an R9X Hellfire missile, whose warhead is made of a set of folding sword-like blades instead of explosives, in order to minimise civilian casualties and collateral damage.
The militant, an Algerian known as Abu Ahmad al-Muhajir according to local reports, who added that he trained HTS' elite brigade, the Red Bands.
Al-Muhajir was killed alongside a companion, who is thought to also be linked to HTS but has not yet been identified.
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Their vehicle was found with the driver's side shredded by several deep cuts, while the rest of the van was largely intact.
Pictures of the aftermath of the attack showed the driver’s seat drenched in blood.
After further analysis, the munition's remnants were identified as a modified Hellfire known as the "ninja bomb" or "flying ginsu" because it relies solely on the force of the six extendable blades stored inside, which can increase the precision of the attack.
The weapon was developed by the US in secret for anti-terrorist operations, revealed in a May 2019 report in the Wall Street Journal.
The strike occurred less than 16 kilometres (10 miles) from the US strike that killed Islamic State group leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi in October, near the village of Barisha.
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Most of Idlib is nominally under HTS control, being one of the last major parts of Syria outside the control of President Bashar al-Assad's regime.
Approximately 3 million Syrians live in the Idlib enclave, most of whom have fled other areas of fighting across the country.
The US designated HTS a terrorist organisation in 2017.
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