Soleimani and officials from Iran-backed militias were leaving Baghdad airport in two cars early Friday when they were hit by a series of US drone strikes near a cargo area.
The commander had reportedly flown in from Lebanon or Syria. Several missiles struck the convoy and at least seven people are believed to have died.
Al Arabia reported that he was coming from Syria and with him were some Lebanese Hezbollah officials. They were killed in the attack involving air-to-ground missile Hellfire R9X.
“Initial analyzes indicate the use of a Hellfire R9X “Ninja” missile in the process of liquidating the Quds commander, Soleimani, and his companions, near the international airport in Baghdad. It is the ninth time that American forces have used this type of missile alongside other missiles launched by the drone,” Al Arabia said.
What is Hellfire R9X?
The AGM-114 Hellfire is an air-to-surface missile originally developed for anti-armor use by US. However, later models were developed for precision drone strikes against other target types. They have been reportedly used in a number of targeted killings of high-profile individuals.
The Hellfire R9X is a Hellfire variant with a kinetic warhead with pop-out blades, intended to reduce collateral damage. R9X had been deployed in secret since 2017, and their existence was revealed only in 2019. This variant was reportedly used in the killing of Jamal Ahmad Mohammad Al Badawi, accused mastermind of the 2000 USS Cole bombing, as well as Al Qaeda leader Abu Khayr Al Masri.
The US government developed this missile for airstrikes with pinpoint accuracy against terror leaders with no explosion. Instead, it employs a six-blade system that pops out on impact and gashes through the specified targets, with the least impact on surroundings.