The New York Times, citing an anonymous source in the US administration, confirms the use of a special modification of the Hellfire R9X rocket to eliminate the leader of the terrorist group Huras Ad-Din (al-Qaeda in Syria) as a result of a drone strike on June 14 in the Syrian province of Idlib.
Khaled Al-Aruri has become one of the six targets for the destruction of which this munition has been used over the past few years, according to NYT.
The US government has officially confirmed the use of R9X in only two cases:
– A CIA drone hit in January 2019 in Yemen, which resulted in the elimination of Jamal Al-Badawi, one of the USS Cole suspected of attacking a US Navy destroyer in 2000;
– A drone attack by the Joint Special Operations Command drone in Syria in February 2017 against Abu al-Khayr al-Masri, the second man in al-Qaeda.
"Abdullah Mohammed Rajab Abd al-Rahman” pic.twitter.com/21Iet47Ayd
— Charles Lister (@Charles_Lister) February 26, 2017
The modified Hellfire missile carried an inert warhead. Instead of exploding, it hurled about 100 pounds of metal through the top of Mr. al-Aruri’s car. If the high-velocity projectile did not kill him, the missile’s other feature almost certainly did: six long blades tucked inside, which deployed seconds before impact to slice up anything in its path.
The Hellfire variant, known as the R9X, was initially developed nearly a decade ago under pressure from President Barack Obama to reduce civilian casualties and property damage in America’s long-running wars in far-flung hot spots such as Afghanistan, Pakistan, Iraq, Syria, Somalia and Yemen.