Ninja Hellfire, the top-secret American missile to kill Al Qaeda leaders in Syria
US Special Operations Forces nearly two weeks ago killed a Qaeda leader in north-western Syria. Local and international media confirmed the news, but the Pentagon did not provide any detail. According to the New York Times, the United States used a secret weapon, a so-called Ninja Hellfire missile.
The R9X missile, whose explosive warhead is replaced by long blades, not exploding on impact, minimizes risks to nearby civilians and is now often the weapon of choice for precision operations. The six long rockets hence the reference to the Japanese Ninja warriors, extend within seconds of impact, with an effect that has been defined similarly to “an anvil falling from the sky.
According to the Wall Street Journal, the Ninja Bomb (Hellfire R9X) has been used half a dozen times by the CIA and Pentagon in numerous top-secret missions to eliminate targets inside a car or buildings. It would be the second time in three months that US commandos have killed a top Qaeda leader in Syria with this drone-carrying weapon developed during Barack Obama’s double term. To respond to the former president’s request to reduce human losses in conflicts in Afghanistan, Pakistan, Syria, Somalia, and Yemen are possible.
The recent ramming of an American ground patrol by a Russian armored vehicle has intensified tensions between the two rival powers in north-eastern Syria. The clash prompted the Pentagon last week to send Bradley fighter vehicles and more fighter jet patrols to reinforce the more than 500 American troops fighting ISIS in north-western Syria.But the United States is also fighting in northwest Syria against another terrorist group affiliated with Al Qaeda.
The US does not have troops on the ground but the Joint Special Operations Command, which is always part of the United States Special Operations Command, aided by the CIA. Other American military and counter-terrorism officials, as well as the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, said the Ninja Bomb Hellfire missile attack would kill Sayyaf al-Tunsi, a Tunisian head of an operation against the West, states United included. His death would have disrupted Hurras al-Din’s operations.
This group formed in early 2018 after several factions broke away from the Nusra Front, which has publicly distanced itself from the general leadership of Al Qaeda in Pakistan. Hurras al-Din was born from the ashes of the Khorasan Group, a small but dangerous organization of Al Qaeda veteran agents. Khorasan was destroyed by a series of US airstrikes several years ago, but Hurras al-Din is much larger.
Even known as Guardians of Religion, they are considered so dangerous that the Pentagon created an unusual step, a special hotline with Russian commanders in Syria this summer to allow special operations forces to conduct unchallenged airstrikes. Which then happened on the training camps both in the provinces of Aleppo and Idlib.
These are rare attacks west of the unofficial dividing line between American forces east of the Euphrates River and Russian and Syrian government troops west of the river. “As for the Russians, we have conflict-free flights in north-western Syria,” a senior US military official told the NYT, “even though they don’t particularly like us there, most of the time they don’t object.”
The Pentagon hasn’t said much about the latest drone strike in north-western Syria. Major Beth Riordan, spokesman for the US Central Command, only confirmed that it took place near Idlib on September 14, and yesterday the top US government counter-terrorism official hinted at the covert operation to destroy the group’s leadership. Without giving any other details, most of which remain confidential.