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Published On: Sat, Jun 17th, 2017

Russian Defense Ministry is looking into information that Al-Baghdadi was killed in Raqqa

nsnbc : The Russian Defense Ministry, on Friday, stated that it was vetting information that a Russian air strike near the Syrian city of Raqqa may have killed Islamic State leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi in late May.

Al-Baghdadi_Iraq_2017_(archives)The relevant air strike was launched after Russian forces in Syria received intelligence that a meeting of Islamic State leaders was being planned, the Defense Ministry said in a statement posted on its Facebook page.

“On May 28, after drones were used to confirm the information on the place and time of the meeting of IS leaders, between 00:35 and 00:45, Russian air forces launched a strike on the command point where the leaders were located,” the statement said.

According to the information which is now being checked via various channels, also present at the meeting was Islamic State leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, who was eliminated as a result of the strike,” the ministry said.

SDF announce start of the operation to liberate Raqqa. Photo courtesy YPG.

SDF announce start of the operation to liberate Raqqa. Photo courtesy YPG.

The U.S.-led coalition fighting Islamic State said it could not confirm the Russian report that Baghdadi may have been killed. It is worth noting the Russian Defense Ministry issued the statement after the U.S.-backed, predominantly Syrian- Kurdish Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF), launched their major attack against ISIS in Raqqa this month.

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 Russian defense ministry statement said. The IS (ISIS, ISIL, Daesh) leaders had reportedly gathered at the command center, in a southern suburb of Raqqa, to discuss possible routes for the militants’ retreat from the city.

The United States was informed in advance about the place and time of the strike, the Russian military said. Islamic State fighters are close to defeat in the twin capitals of the group’s territory, Mosul in Iraq and Raqqa in Syria. Russian forces support the Syrian government which is fighting against Islamic State mainly from the west, while a U.S.-led coalition supports Iraqi government forces fighting against Islamic State from the east.

The last public video footage of Baghdadi shows him dressed in black clerical robes declaring his caliphate from the pulpit of Mosul’s medieval Grand al-Nuri mosque back in 2014. There have circulated several reports about the death of Al-Baghdadi. One such report alleged that he could have been killed in Mosul. It is possible that reports about his death could have been tactically planted by ISIS to facilitate his escape.

CH/L – nsnbc 17.06.2017

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