A suspected U.S. drone strike on Idlib’s city center on Sunday has killed two senior commander of al-Qaeda-affiliated Horas al-Din, Qassam al-Urduni and Bilal al-Sanani. The strike targeted the commanders’ SUV as it was passing on a road in the western part of Idlib city. The SUV, a silver Hyundai Santa Fe, was struck with what appears to be two U.S.-made AGM-114R9X Hellfire missile.
The AGM-114R9X Hellfire, dubbed “Ninja Bomb,” is armed with a kinetic warhead with pop-out blades. The missile has been deployed in secret since 2017, with its existence revealed in 2019. The below shows the aftermath of the strike by the weapon developed by the CIA (Warning: Graphic).
Pro-militant sources revealed that Qassam al-Urduni was the general military commander of Horas al-Din. Bilal al-Sanani, on the other hand, was the commander of the group’s al-Badiya [desert] Army. Both terrorists were Jordanian citizens.
In December of last year, a U.S. drone strike killed Abu Khadija al-Urduniyi, a senior Jordanian commander of Horas al-Din in northern Idlib. Abu Khadija’s SUV was also struck with an AGM-114R9X Hellfire missile.
#Syria: the military commander of Horas Al-Din was killed today by a US drone, firing the Hellfire "AGM-114R9X" missile already used in the past. Nicknamed "Ninja missile" it has a kinetic warhead with blades (with tremendous effect on ppl inside the car) & doesn't use explosives pic.twitter.com/LDQkxbfMgU— QalaatM (@QalaatM) June 14, 2020
The Wall Street Journal previously described of the secretive cutting edge weapon:
Both the Central Intelligence Agency and the Pentagon have used the weapon while closely guarding its existence. A modified version of the well-known Hellfire missile, the weapon carries an inert warhead. Instead of exploding, it is designed to plunge more than 100 pounds of metal through the tops of cars and buildings to kill its target without harming individuals and property close by.
To the targeted person, it is as if a speeding anvil fell from the sky, the officials said. But this variant of the Hellfire missile, designated as the R9X, also comes equipped with a different kind of payload: a halo of six long blades that are stowed inside and then deploy through the skin of the missile seconds before impact to ensure that it shreds anything in its tracks.
Qassam al-Urduni, Bilal al-Sanani and Abu Khadija al-Urduniyi were reportedly former commanders of al-Qaeda’s Hay’at Tahrir al-Sham.
Footage purportedly of the circling drone just before Sunday's targeted attack:
The assassination of al-Urduni and al-Sanani is without a doubt a serious blow to Horas al-Din. However, this attack will not likely affect the terrorist group’s influence in Greater Idlib.
Recently, the group and other al-Qaeda factions formed a new operations room in the northwestern Syrian region.