Al Nusra leader in critical condition following airstrike, says Russian ministry

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A Russian air force strike against the al-Qaida-linked Nusra Front terrorist group has resulted in serious injuries to its Syrian leader and the death of its 12 field commanders, the Russian Defense Ministry said Wednesday.

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. He lost his arm, told the official representative of the Ministry of defense Igor Konashenkov, citing information from several independent sources.

Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu says his government is making a major effort to try to isolate al-Qaeda's Nusra Front within the Idlib Province of Syria, as part of implementing deals to reduce violence in the country.

Julani was the head of the Nusra Front terrorist group before it merged with other militant outfits to form the so-called Tahrir al-Sham in January 2017.

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

"US colleagues' support for terrorists and pandering to them rather than terrorists' combat efficiency is the main obstacle for completing the rout of the ISIL [the former name of the Islamic State]", the general said.

Since the assault on Russian military police, Idlib has been the target of heavy air strikes by the Syrian regime and Russia.

But the Russian Defence Ministry denied their soldiers had been captured, Interfax news agency reported.

He was killed fighting Daesh in the central desert of Palmyra on Monday, Hezbollah said on Wednesday.

Moscow has been conducting an anti-terrorist operation in Syria since September 30, 2015, at the behest of Syrian President Bashar Assad.