Russia said on Wednesday it had killed 12 field commanders of al-Nusra Front in an air strike, adding the group’s top leader Abu Mohammed al-Jolani had lost an arm and was in a “critical condition.’
Defense ministry spokesman Igor Konashenkov said the strike was the result of a special operation to avenge an attack on Russian military police in Syria on September 18.
As a result of the strike, “Jolani received multiple serious shrapnel wounds, lost an arm and is in a critical condition, according to several independent sources,” Konashenkov said in a statement.
He said 12 field commanders including al-Jolani’s security chief were also killed along with some 50 guards.
More than 10 militants received moderate and serious blast injuries, Konashenkov stated, adding that Su-34 and Su-35 jets were used to target the fighters.
The Moscow-led forces were able to hunt down the group using data obtained by Russian military intelligence on Tuesday and struck just when the militants convened for a meeting.
Al-Nusra Front, shed its status as Al-Qaeda’s Syrian affiliate in 2016 and became Fateh al-Sham Front.
Since 2017, it dominates a coalition of militant factions called Hayat Tahrir al-Sham (HTS).
The alliance controls most of the northwestern province of Idlib after expelling former allies earlier this year.