Russian Federation says it may have killed Islamic State group leader

Aaron Brown
June 17, 2017

The ministry claimed as a result of the strike, Islamic State leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi was eliminated and that the information is now being checked by various channels.

Russia Friday said it was verifying whether the elusive Islamic State terror group chief Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi had been killed in a targeted Russian airstrike in strife-torn Syria last month.

The spokesman for the U.S. -led anti-Islamic State coalition, U.S. Army Col. Ryan Dillon, said in an email, "We can not confirm these reports at this time".

"So far, I have no 100% confirmation of the information that Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi has been killed".

The report of al-Baghdadi's death comes as Isil suffers major setbacks in which it has lost wide areas of territory and both of its strongholds - Mosul in Iraq and Syria's Raqqa.

"This is coming from the ministry of defense [in Moscow], so there is reason to view it with caution", added the official, who suggested Russian military officials may be trying to take credit for killing the ISIS leader without absolute evidence that he's dead.

"If the Russian airstrike has indeed killed al-Baghdadi, it may not be the success story that we have hoped", Natasha Underhill, a lecturer in worldwide relations at Nottingham Trent University specializing in terrorism, said by email.

The IS leaders had gathered at the command centre, in a southern suburb of Raqqa, to discuss possible routes for the militants' retreat from the city, the statement said. With each city lost, ISIS loses the ability to plot attacks, United States officials have said.

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In response to Russia's claim that its strike killed an ISIS emir named Ibrahim al-Nayif al-Hajj, the human rights group says, "this news is not true", adding that it believes Hajj was killed in an attack on May 24 at al-Baroudeh village. It also claimed responsibility for the June 3 London attack that killed eight people.

He gave a sermon at a mosque in the Iraqi city of Mosul in 2014, in which he declared himself the leader of his envisaged Islamic caliphate.

There was no statement from Islamic State or other jihadist groups on Friday regarding his status.

It's great news for the residents and will likely rid us of many of their soldiers on the ground there, but you know that there's a virtually endless supply of new recruits around the world waiting to join them or strike out on their own in the name of the cause.

This is the first time that Russian Federation has claimed killing al-Baghdadi, despite previous reports of the leader's death circulating. In March 2017, US defense officials said he left Mosul before Iraqi forces began their offensive to remove the group from Iraq's second-largest city. The offering a $25 million reward for information leading to his death or capture.

Syrian troops and allied militias advanced within miles of a strategic airbase controlled by US -backed forces west of Raqqa city on Thursday, the United Kingdom-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights reported.

Al-Baghdadi is a nom de guerre for a man identified as Ibrahim Awwad Ibrahim Ali al-Badri al-Samarrai.

Other reports by Free-Prsite

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