Russia's military says may have killed ISIS leader Baghdadi

by Antonio Miles June 22, 2017, 7:26
Russia's military says may have killed ISIS leader Baghdadi

Beirut- Moscow revived on Friday the controversy over the fate of ISIS leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi by announcing that its army might have killed him during an airstrike that targeted Syria's Raqqa last month.

Russian Federation supports the Syrian government of President Bashar al-Assad, which is fighting against Islamic State fighters, one front in a multi-sided civil war.

The Russian Defence Ministry said on its Facebook page that it was checking information that Baghdadi was killed in the strike on the outskirts of Raqqa in Syria, launched after Russia received intelligence about a meeting of Islamic State leaders.

It said the IS leaders were discussing the group's withdrawal from Raqqa, with the military planning the airstrike after hearing that the leadership would be meeting.

It said the military began planning the hit after getting word that the Islamic State leaders were going to gather for a meeting to plan their exit to the south.

Su-35 and Su-34 jets were used in the strike, which was preceded by drone reconnaissance flights, the ministry said.

A USA -led coalition is assisting Iraqi forces in the Mosul battle and supporting the Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF), which includes Arab and Kurdish militias, in Raqqa.

REUTERS/Reuters TVThe image shows ISIS leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi.

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However, a Reuters report quoting a colonel with the Iraqi national security service said Baghdadi was not believed to have been in Raqqa at the time of the strike in late May.

According to the Jordan Times, Baghdadi, who has been nicknamed "The Ghost", probably left Mosul shortly afterward and moved through the Syria-Iraq border region, keeping his profile low.

The Associated Press notes that even the triumphant Russians have admitted they are still working to verify the Baghdadi kill. Baghdadi gained worldwide notoriety after ISIS seized Mosul, Iraq's second-biggest city, in June 2014 before claiming swathes of territory and launching deadly attacks on Western cities, including Paris and London.

Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, is the nom de guerre, of the ISIS leader born as Ibrahim Awwad Ibrahim Ali al-Badri al Samarrai.

Rami Abdulrahman, director of the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, cast doubt on the report Baghdadi may have been killed.

There have been numerous reports of Baghdadi's demise or disappearance in the past that have turned out to be false.

However, in the case of IS spokesman Abu-Muhammad al-Adnani, the group rushed to announce his death on 30 August 2016, the same day he was targeted in a United States air strike in Syria, pre-empting any reports by the military or media.


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