26 June, 2017
The Russian Defense Ministry claimed earlier Friday al-Baghdadi was killed in a strike in late May near the Syrian city of Raqqa, the terror group's de facto capital. The re-emergence of Baghdadi after reports of his "death" has only added to his mystique, given that most people didn't even know what he looked like till he appeared in a video of a sermon at a mosque in Mosul in July 2014.
There have previously been unconfirmed reports, including in March 2015 and in June 2016, that al-Baghdadi was seriously wounded in airstrikes carried out by US -led coalition forces.
U.S. defense officials say they are aware of reports of the strike and is looking for information to confirm it.
There have been other previous reports of al-Baghdadi being killed but they turned out to be false.
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 ministry said that the meeting had been observed beforehand by drone footage. According to the ministry, among those liquidated were "Abu Al-Hajji Al-Misri (emir of Raqqa), Ibrahim Al-Naef Al-Hajj (he controlled the whole region between Raqqa and Sukhnah) and Suleiman Al-Shawah (head of IS internal security)". "So clearly it is still business as usual for ISIS".
This is the first time, however, that Russian Federation has said it may have killed the IS leader. They are republished from a number of sources, and are not produced by MintPress News.
Officials had long described the ISIS leader as enemy No. 1 in the fight against ISIS, and speculation had swirled over his whereabouts. He has occasionally spoken out in audio and video messages.
Iraqi forces are meanwhile battling ISIL in Mosul, where the extremists are confined to just a few neighbourhoods in the west of the city. Al Qaeda leaders later severed relations with him, saying he was insubordinate, killing too many civilians.
In this file image made from video provided by Russian Defence Ministry press service on August 18, 2016, shows a Russian combat fighter bomber Su-34 unloads its bombs over a target in Syria. And the brutality has continued, despite military setbacks. Reports later said he had made a slow recovery. The US is offering a $25m (€22.3m) reward for information leading to his death or capture.
Abu Bakr-al Baghdadi dead?