US forces are thought to have killed a senior jihadist leader in northern Syria using a rarely deployed “Ninja” missile which attacks targets with precision sword-like blades.
The Hellfire missile, or AGM-114R9X, which has a set of six folding blades instead of a warhead for minimum collateral damage, is believed to have been used to take out a commander in the al-Qaeda offshoot Hayat Tahrir Al Sham (HTS) in the province of Idlib.
The leader, named locally by his nom-de-guerre Abu Ahmad al-Muhajir, was reported to have been killed on Tuesday night when the car he was travelling in was hit by missiles in the town of Atmeh near the Turkish border, 10 miles from the US raid that killed Islamic State leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi last month.
He was said to be a high-profile foreign trainer of an elite force within HTS, known as “The Red Bands”. Another, unidentified fighter who had been in car was also killed.
Images of the scene shared on social media show a hole in the driver’s seat of the Mutsubishi Delica, which is otherwise largely intact. Inside the car, flesh and blood can be seen and a number of large identical cut marks.