On December 30, a U.S. drone strike hit the northwestern Syrian region of Greater Idlib, where a number of terrorist groups affiliated with al-Qaeda are active.
The strike targeted a mini truck that was passing on a road between the towns of Salqin and Isqat in northern Idlib. The two towns are located a few kilometers away from the border line with Turkey.
Photos from the strike scene show what appears to be the remains of an AGM-114R9X missile. Dubbed “Ninja Bomb”, the missile is a Hellfire variant armed with a kinetic warhead with pop-out blades, meant to reduce collateral damage. Deployed in secret since 2017, with existence revealed in 2019.
Update2: The R9X’s blade with the distinctive cut-outs can be seen in the scene of today’s drone strike near Salqin. pic.twitter.com/PF8Eguxoe6
— Within Syria (@WithinSyriaBlog) December 30, 2020
The laser-guided missile missed its target. The White Helmets said one person was injured as a result of the strike. The identity of the said individual was not revealed.
إصابة شخص بجروح، عصر اليوم الأربعاء 30 كانون الأول، نتيجة استهداف طيران مجهول الهوية، سيارة على الطريق الواصل بين مدينة سلقين وبلدة إسقاط بريف إدلب الشمالي الغربي، عملت فرق الدفاع المدني السوري على تفقد مكان الغارة وتأمينه لحماية المدنيين.#الخوذ_البيضاء pic.twitter.com/DSdSwhhBR8
— الدفاع المدني السوري (@SyriaCivilDefe) December 30, 2020
U.S. drones have been hunting jihadists in Greater Idlib for a while now. In the last two years, many senior leaders of al-Qaeda were killed in drone strikes, most of them carried out with the state-of-the-art AGM-114R9X.
The U.S. is, however, ignoring Hay’at Tahrir al-Sham, the largest al-Qaeda faction and the de-facto ruler of Greater Idlib. Many of those being killed are in fact inner enemies of the faction and its terrorist leader, Abu Mohamad al-Julani.