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Islamic State leader Baghdadi ‘may have been killed by Russia’

Director of the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights Rami Abdel-Rahman told Asharq Al-Awsat that at the time of the Russian airstrike, all first-rank ISIS officials had already fled Raqqa.The Russian military said the United States was informed about the venue and the time of the strike in due time.Asked later about that claim at a news conference in Moscow, however, Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov said: “I don’t have a 100 percent confirmation of the information”.There have been multiple reports of Baghdadi’s death in the past that have turned out to be false.The demise of Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi would be a severe blow to the extremist group as it fights to hang on to its strongholds in Syria and Iraq, although it was not clear how much operational control he retains over the organization whose capabilities keep evolving on the battlefield and beyond.Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, which is a nom de guerre, was born Ibrahim Awwad Ibrahim Ali al-Badri al Samarrai.He emerged as the leader of al-Qaeda in Iraq, one of the groups that later became Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIS) in 2010 and then Islamic State (IS) in 2014, and rose to prominence during the failed merger with al-Qaeda-linked Nusra Front in Syria (now Jabhet Fateh al-Sham).Islamic State fighters are close to defeat in the twin capitals of the group’s territory, Mosul in Iraq and Raqqa in Syria, after almost three years ruling over millions of people in a wide swathe of territory in both countries.However, the Russian military says it was still checking facts to confirm Baghdadi’s death.Western sources said they could not corroborate the death while Iraqi officials said they were sceptical about reports about the secretive leader.The Russian Air forces eliminated two top Islamic State (IS) field commanders and some 180 terrorists during airstrikes in Syria in early June, the Russian Defence Ministry said.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 U.S. air strike in Syria, pre-empting any reports by the military or media.The air strike was launched after the Russian forces in Syria received intelligence that a meeting of ISIS leaders was being planned, the ministry said in a statement posted on its Facebook page.In June a year ago, there were claims that he had been killed during a USA air strike, but it turned out to be a hoax concocted by an ISIS-controlled news agency.Rate this article Do you want to leave a comment?