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Leader of Syrian Al-Qaeda Gravely Wounded in Airstrike, Lost an Arm - Russian Military

If he dies will Russia claim the $10 million reward the US put on his head?

This post first appeared on Russia Insider

The Russian ministry of defense has said they've hit a meeting of Hayat Tahrir al-Sham (ex-Jabhat al-Nusra) killing 12 of its field commanders and wounded the leader, Mohammad al-Julani:

The leader of Al-Nusra has been critically injured in an airstrike carried out by the Russian Air Force, the Russian Defense Ministry said in a statement, adding that at least 12 Al-Nusra field commanders had been killed in the same attack.

Abu Mohammad al-Julani, the Commander-in-chief of Tahrir al-Sham, a terrorist group formed after the collapse of the Al-Nusra terrorist organization, was targeted by the Russian airstrike, the ministry's spokesman Major-General Igor Konashenkov said.

Julani “sustained shrapnel wounds and is in a critical condition after losing his arm, according to information from multiple independent sources,” Konashenkov added.

The airstrike killed at least 12 Al-Nusra field commanders and some 50 members of the group’s security detail, the ministry’s spokesman said, adding that Julani’s aide was also killed in the Russian strike.

On October 3, Russian intelligence “uncovered the time and place of the Al-Nusra leadership meeting”led by Juliani, the statement said. After getting confirmation of the terrorists’ arrival and the start of the meeting, Su-34 fighter-bombers and Su-35 fighters were deployed to strike the location.

Julani supposedly lost an arm in the strike and is in critical condition. 

Julani set up Jabhat al-Nusra in 2012 on orders from Islamic State of Iraq (which would go on to become ISIS), of which he was at the time a part of, but later split off from them over tactics and ISIS' demand he fully reintegrates his outfit back into the original group. Thus from 2013 on Julani swore loyalty to  Ayman al-Zawahiri, Osama bin Laden's #2, rather than the leaders of ISIS.

In 2016 the US placed a $10 million reward on his head.

Earlier this year Russia said there was a high likelihood one of its strikes had killed ISIS leader al-Baghdadi. This turned out to probably not be the case since recently ISIS released an audio tape allegedly recorded by Baghdadi. However in this case the Russians are not even saying there is a high probability they hit him. They are outright saying they injured him.

Julani is the founder and the only leader of Nusra they've had so far. His death could be very disruptive for the group.

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