(MENAFN- Gulf Times) Russia said yesterday it had killed 12 field commanders of Al Qaeda's former Syria affiliate, adding the group's top leader Abu Mohamed al-Jolani had lost an arm and was in a 'critical condition.
Defence ministry spokesman Igor Konashenkov said the strike was the result of a special operation to avenge an attack on Russian military police in the so-called Idlib de-escalation zone in Syria on September 18.
'As a result of the strike, the leader of Jabhat al-Nusra Abu Mohamed al-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 fighters received moderate and serious blast injuries, he said, adding that Sukhoi Su-34 and Su-35 jets were used to target the militants.
The Moscow-led forces were able to hunt down the militant group using data obtained by Russian military intelligence on Tuesday and struck just when the fighters convened for a meeting.
The Jabhat al-Nusra, or 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.
Washington and the UN did not recognise the break from Al Qaeda and retained the militants on their terror blacklists.Over the past months Russia has claimed to have killed several top militant commanders.
Russia reported in June its jets had possibly killed the leader of the Islamic State group Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi during a bombing raid near the IS stronghold of Raqqa in Syria and said in July it was struggling to confirm if he was dead or alive.
Syrian refugees queue to register their names at the Zaatari office for employment yesterday at theZaatari refugee camp, 80 kilometres north of the Jordanian capital, Amman. The office for employment is set up in co-ordination with the Jordanian government and aims to facilitate access to formal work
opportunities for refugees living in the camp.
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