Russia 'maims' leader of former al-Qaeda affiliate in Syria
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.