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Uncertainty over Islamic State leader’s fate after airstrike

The claim of al-Baghdadis demise comes almost three years after he had declared himself the leader of an Islamic caliphate in Iraq and Syria, from a historic mosque in Mosul.The statement also said the airstrike killed 30 midlevel ISIS field commanders and as many as 300 militants who made up their personal security.”We can not confirm”, coalition spokesman Colonel John Dorrian told Reuters.The ministry said that around 180 fighters were killed, and that 16 military vehicles were destroyed along with weapons stores. Two other top figures, Islamic State spokesman Abu Mohammed al-Adnani, and Abu Ali al-Anbari, the extremist group’s leading finance official, were killed in 2016.”According to information, which is being verified via different channels, the meeting was also attended by the (IS) leader Ibrahim Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, who was eliminated in the strike”, the ministry said, according to the TASS news agency.The ISIS 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. Al Qaeda leaders later severed relations with him, saying he was insubordinate, killing too many civilians. Several Iraqi security officials said Iraq was doubtful as well.However, the US-led coalition said it could not immediately affirm whether Baghdadi was killed. There have been previous reports of al-Baghdadi’s death, which turned out to be untrue.Lavrov, at the news conference, added that if al-Baghdadi’s death is confirmed, its importance mustn’t be overestimated.Who is Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi?Russian forces backed the Assad regime which is fighting ISIS mainly from the western part, while the US-led coalition forces back Iraqi forces which are tackling Islamic State from the east.Minutes after midnight of the said date, an airstrike was done near Raqqa in Syria, where Russian Federation believes a gathering of around 30 ISIS leaders and 300 militants took place.This is the first time, however, that Russian Federation has said it may have killed the IS leader.Su-35 and Su-34 jets were used in the strike, which was preceded by drone reconnaissance flights, the ministry said.Reuters added that in the absence of independent confirmation, some USA officials said US agencies were skeptical of the report.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.Did you find this article informative?