FLASH: Russia’s Military May Have Killed IS Leader Baghdadi
Friday, Russia’s Defense Ministry said it is checking information that a Russian air strike near the Syrian city of Raqqa may have killed Islamic State (IS) leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, 46 anni, in late May.
The air strike was launched after the Russian forces in Syria received intelligence that a meeting of Islamic State leaders was being planned, the ministry said in a statement posted on its Facebook page.
“On May 28, after drones were used to confirm the information on the place and time of the meeting of IS leaders, between 00:35 and 00:45, Russian air forces launched a strike on the command point where the leaders were located,” the statement said.
“According to the information which is now being checked via various channels, also present at the meeting was Islamic State leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, who was eliminated as a result of the strike,” the ministry said.
The US-led coalition fighting ISIS said it could not confirm the Russian report that Baghdadi may have been killed.
The strike is believed to have killed several other senior leaders of the group, as well as around 30 Field Commanders and up to 300 of their personal guards, the Russian defense ministry statement said.
The IS leaders had gathered at the command center, in a southern suburb of Raqqa, to discuss possible routes for the militants’ retreat from the city, the statement said.
The United States was informed in advance about the place and time of the strike, the Russian military said.
Islamic State fighters are close to defeat in the twin capitals of the group’s territory, Mosul in Iraq and Raqqa in Syria.
Russian forces support the Syrian government which is fighting against Islamic State mainly from the West, while a US-led coalition supports Iraqi government forces fighting against Islamic State from the East.
The last public video footage of Baghdadi shows him dressed in black clerical robes declaring his caliphate from the pulpit of Mosul’s medieval Grand al-Nuri mosque back in Y 2014.
Born Ibrahim al-Samarrai, Baghdadi is an Iraqi who broke away from al Qaeda in Y 2013, 2 years after the killing of the group’s leader Osama bin Laden.