Europe

Russia says its strike in Syria killed 30 al-Qaida fighters

  • In this photo made from the footage taken from Russian Defense Ministry official web site on Tuesday, Nov. 15, 2016, a Russian Su-33 fighter jet stands on the flight deck of the Admiral Kuznetsov aircraft carrier in the eastern Mediterranean Sea. The Russian military on Tuesday launched a series of strikes on militant targets in Syria involving carrier-borne fighters, marking the Admiral Kuznetsov's combat debut. (Russian Defense Ministry Press Service/ Photo via AP)

    In this photo made from the footage taken from Russian Defense Ministry official web site on Tuesday, Nov. 15, 2016, a Russian Su-33 fighter jet stands on the flight deck of the Admiral Kuznetsov aircraft carrier in the eastern Mediterranean Sea. The Russian military on Tuesday launched a series of strikes on militant targets in Syria involving carrier-borne fighters, marking the Admiral Kuznetsov's combat debut. (Russian Defense Ministry Press Service/ Photo via AP)  (The Associated Press)

  • This image released by Thiqa News Agency shows an injured child after airstrikes in Aleppo, Syria, Wednesday, Nov. 16, 2016. Turkish warplanes on Monday struck Islamic State positions in and near the northern Syrian town of al-Bab while Ankara-backed Syrian opposition fighters inched closer to the town, one of the extremist group's largest remaining strongholds in the country, Turkish state media and Syrian activists said.(Thiqa News via AP)

    This image released by Thiqa News Agency shows an injured child after airstrikes in Aleppo, Syria, Wednesday, Nov. 16, 2016. Turkish warplanes on Monday struck Islamic State positions in and near the northern Syrian town of al-Bab while Ankara-backed Syrian opposition fighters inched closer to the town, one of the extremist group's largest remaining strongholds in the country, Turkish state media and Syrian activists said.(Thiqa News via AP)  (The Associated Press)

  • This image released by Thiqa News Agency shows an injured child after airstrikes in Aleppo, Syria, Wednesday, Nov. 16, 2016. Turkish warplanes on Monday struck Islamic State positions in and near the northern Syrian town of al-Bab while Ankara-backed Syrian opposition fighters inched closer to the town, one of the extremist group's largest remaining strongholds in the country, Turkish state media and Syrian activists said.(Thiqa News via AP)

    This image released by Thiqa News Agency shows an injured child after airstrikes in Aleppo, Syria, Wednesday, Nov. 16, 2016. Turkish warplanes on Monday struck Islamic State positions in and near the northern Syrian town of al-Bab while Ankara-backed Syrian opposition fighters inched closer to the town, one of the extremist group's largest remaining strongholds in the country, Turkish state media and Syrian activists said.(Thiqa News via AP)  (The Associated Press)

The Russian military says one of its airstrikes in Syria this week killed at least 30 members of Syria's al-Qaida-linked group, including some of its leaders.

Defense Ministry spokesman Maj. Gen. Igor Konashenkov says the strike took place in Syria's northern province of Idlib on Tuesday.

He says it was launched from a Russian aircraft carrier in the Mediterranean and hit the al-Qaida-linked militant group, now known as Fatah al-Sham Front.

Konashenkov said on Thursday that Russian intelligence reports have confirmed that three prominent leaders of the al-Qaida branch — Muhammad Helala, Abu Jaber Harmuja and Abul Baha Al-Asfari — were among those killed.

The strike was part of a long-anticipated offensive against rebel-held areas announced by Russia, a key ally of Syrian President Bashar Assad.