Russian air strike in Syria had killed 12 Nusra Front field commanders and seriously injured the group’s leader, Russia’s Defence Ministry spokesman Igor Konashekov said in a statement.
"After the attack, Jabhat al-Nusra leader, Abu Mohammed al-Julani, sustained multiple heavy shrapnel wounds and, having lost his arm, according to several independent sources, is in critical condition. Along with numerous (about 50 people) body guards, twelve Jabhat al-Nusra field commanders, including al-Julani’s closest assistant, head of the group’s security service Ahmad al-Ghizai, have been killed," Konashenkov said.
According to the minister, over a dozen militants sustained medium and severe explosive wounds. Konashenkov added that the information on the whereabouts of the Jabhat al-Nusra leaders had been collected by a multi-level intelligence system.
He noted that the decision to carry out an airstrike was made after confirmation of terrorists’ arrival and the beginning of their meeting was received through several channels. The Sukhoi Su-34 and Su-35 planes from Russia’s aircraft alert force in Syria were assigned to hit the target.
The deputy director of the Political and Military Analysis Institute, Alexander Khramchikhin, speaking with Vestnik Kavkaza, noted that the destruction of the Jabhat al-Nusra leadership is a very important event in the elimination of terrorist activity in Syria. "Of course, this is a positive phenomenon. I do not know the internal situation in the group, but when so many commanders are killed, this certainly has a bad effect on military operations of terrorists," he said.
The expert added that the elimination of Jabhat al-Nusra is one of the most important tasks of the Syrian army and Russia's air force. "Undoubtedly, the destruction of this group is the second task after the liquidation of the ISIS terrorist group, banned in Russia," Alexander Khramchikhin stressed.
Senior Researcher of the IMEMO Center for International Security, Stanislav Ivanov, in turn, warned that that even the death of top commanders does not necessarily mean the destruction of the group. "There will be other commanders. I think there will be enough other militants with higher education, both from the post-Soviet space and Europe, who can replace these dead," he said, adding that, among other things, it was due to the fact that the group is supported by many other groupings in the region, as well as part of Syria's population.