Russian 'revenge' strike 'critically injures' leader of former al-Qaeda affiliate in Syria

Russian 'revenge' strike 'critically injures' leader of former al-Qaeda affiliate in Syria
Russia says it has severely injured former al-Nusra front leader Abu Mohammed al-Joulani in an airstrike on northern Syria.
2 min read
04 October, 2017
Russia says Abu Mohammed al-Joulani has lost an arm and is in critical condition [Getty]
The head of a Syrian rebel group formerly affiliated to al-Qaeda, Abu Mohammed al-Joulani, has been maimed in a Russian airstrike in Syria, Moscow said on Wednesday.

Russia's defence ministry said that the former al-Nusra Front leader lost an arm and is in a "critical condition" following the strike that also killed 12 Hayat Tahrir al-Sham commanders, including Joulani's security chief.

"As a result of the strike, the leader of Jabhat al-Nusra, Abu Mohammed al-Joulani, received multiple serious shrapnel wounds, lost an arm and is in a critical condition, according to several independent sources," ministry spokesman Igor Konashenkov said in a statement.

Konashenkov said the strike was the result of a special operation to avenge an attack on Russian military police in Syria on September 18.

Russian-led forces tracked down the militants using data obtained by Russian intelligence while HTS fighters gathered for a meeting.

Joulani headed Jabhat al-Nusra, or the Nusra Front, which later changed its name to Fateh al-Sham in 2016 when it cut ties with al-Qaeda.

Washington and the United Nations did not recognise the group's break from al-Qaeda and kept it on terror blacklists.

Since 2017, Fateh al-Sham has dominated HTS, which is a coalition of rebel groups in northern Syria.

The alliance controls most of the northwestern province of Idlib after expelling Islamist former allies earlier this year.