Secretive 'Ninja Sword' R9X airstrike reported in Idlib

Video and images from the June 14 airstrike show the car was hit in the passenger side of the front window and the roof, apparently using two missiles.

A motorbike burns after an airstrike in this screen grab taken from a social media video said to be taken in Idlib, Syria on July 16, 2019 (photo credit: WHITE HELMETS/SOCIAL MEDIA VIA REUTERS)
A motorbike burns after an airstrike in this screen grab taken from a social media video said to be taken in Idlib, Syria on July 16, 2019
(photo credit: WHITE HELMETS/SOCIAL MEDIA VIA REUTERS)
A drone was filmed over Idlib on Sunday and allegedly carried out a strike on a car using the secretive R9X “ninja” missile, a modified version of a Hellfire missile that uses blades to kill instead of a warhead. A bloody body and what appeared to be a blade from the weapon were seen in a Hyundai vehicle as people shouted and sought to aid the deceased passenger.
This weapon first was revealed in May 2019 reports that appeared to confirm a mysterious weapon that struck vehicles from Syria to Yemen and penetrated the top of cars like knife going through butter, opening them up like a tin can. This weapon was reportedly used in February 2017 to kill Abu Khayr al-Masri, a deputy of Al-Qaeda, in Idlib province.
Masri was born in Egypt and had worked with Ayman al-Zawahiri. Apparently detained in Iran, he went to Syria after being released by Tehran in 2015 and moved to Idlib to work with the Nusra front. Nusra is Syria’s Al-Qaeda branch; it later became Hayat Tahrir al-Sham.
Al-Mastumah, the area where al-Masri (“the Egyptian”) was killed, was 44 km. south of an area called Barisha that Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi moved to after the defeat of ISIS in Raqqa in 2017.
Video and images from the June 14, 2020 airstrike show the car was hit in the passenger side of the front window and the roof, apparently using two missiles. It is reminiscent of another December 2019 drone strike that killed a Jordanian member of Hurras al-Din, a man named Bilal Khuraisat or Abu Khadija al-Urduni.
Now, another Jordanian and a Yemeni have apparently been killed. They were also linked to Hurras al-Din, a group is said to be an Al-Qaeda breakaway. The dead were named as Qassam al-Urduni, or Qassam the Jordanian, and Bilal al-Sanaani. One man with a leg missing and gashes was reportedly brought to a hospital and photos of him were released. He was said to be alive.
The airstrikes all seem similar. The missile, with up to six swords popping out of an area above its visual guidance at the tip, sliced through the passenger side of the car and cut up the target. These are believed to be modified Hellfire missiles, the missiles used since the early 2000s on US armed drones. The modified missile is sometimes called a “Ginsu” but is technically also named an R9X. These are big munitions, about the size of  an adult male. They weight 100 lbs.
US MQ-9 Reaper drones can carry four laser-guided AGM-114 Hellfires, each with a 20 lb. warhead. In this case these missiles would have their warheads replaced with the swords.
Hurras al-Din is known to be close to ISIS. Abu Mohammed Salami, a Hurras commander, sheltered ISIS leader al-Baghdadi until October 2019 when US special forces killed al-Baghdadi in a raid near the Turkish border. France24 notes that Hurras is considered loyal to Al-Qaeda head Zawahiri.
It’s unclear how it operates so close to the Turkish border with ISIS and HTS with Turkish NATO member forces in vicinity. Turkey has sent thousands of soldiers to Idlib in recent months but its NATO forces never appear to fight against Al-Qaeda or terrorist groups, many of which allegedly move freely where Turkey’s units are located. 
The June 14 strike was carried out with a drone that appeared to fly over the area in broad daylight. The drone was not shot at by regime air defense, nor was it interdicted by Turkish electronic jamming. It is not clear where the drone came from. The US killed more Al-Qaeda leaders in August, September and July 2019 in Syria and in Yemen in February 2020. Washington apparently targeted Al-Qaeda in Libya in February 2019.

The use of the “ninja” missiles to “mince” members of Al-Qaeda, especially in daylight, appears to send a message to Hurras al-Din that it is being watched and hunted. However the group appears to  have a safe haven in Idlib, so it is unclear how several airstrikes against Jordanian, Egyptian or Yemenite members of this extremist group will totally destroy it.
The group is one example of the many extremist Islamist terrorist groups that are able to operate in Idlib and have foreigners in their ranks. In general these groups have not been alleged to plot numerous attacks on western countries, the way Al-Qaeda used to or ISIS did, which is one reason there has not been more concentration on them.
The US decision to apparently resort to a weapon that uses swords rather than an explosion is likely due to critique during the Obama era of the use of drones strikes with impunity and sometimes harming civilians. During the war on ISIS, America has used drones but has attempted to reduce the number of civilian casualties as much as possible.
It is not clear why the “sword” missiles have been used to hit Al-Qaeda but not ISIS members. That the munition itself and the strikes are not public, despite the large amount of evidence and revelations to newspapers such as The Wall Street Journal about the weapon, leaves many questions unanswered about its employment.