The Russian Air Force carried out a series of airstrikes on or around Mar. 21, 2021, against HTS targets west of Aleppo city, and some of the strikes were video-recorded, both by witness bystanders and the Russians themselves.
The targets consisted of logistics trucks near the Bab al Hawa Turkey-Syria border crossing, Watad Petroleum oil storage facilities near the city of Sarmada, and an underground headquarters at a quarry north of al Atarib.
All targets were in the relative vicinity of the Bab al Hawa road, which Hyat Tahrir ash Sham (HTS) uses to export oil to Turkey in exchange for weapons, material, and monetary support to continue waging their anti Assad campaign. The Watad Petroleum company is owned by HTS and managed by the Syrian Salvation Government, the local HTS shadow government.
HTS is a hardline Sunni salafist group, formerly known as Jabhat al Nusra, al Qaeda's Syrian affiliate. After Abu Bakr al Baghdadi split from the Nusra Front to form ISIS, Nusra leader Mohammed al Jolani rebranded the group to Hyat Tahrir ash Sham in an attempt to blur their relation to al Qaeda in order to alleviate international pressure and present a more supportable freedom-fighter image.