Russia Says It May Have Killed ISIS Leader in Airstrike


"According to information, which is being checked through various channels, IS head Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, who was present at the meeting, was also killed", the statement said.

The Defense Ministry in Russian Federation revealed on Friday morning that Islamic State Leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi is one of the casualties in an airstrike that also killed as many as 330 other ISIS fighters. Sputnik also claimed that Syrian state television reported on Sunday that al-Baghdadi was killed in a US -led airstrike.

Russian Federation says it may have killed the head of ISIS Ibrahim Abu-Bakr al-Baghdadi and the leadership of the terrorist organisation.

The Defense Ministry also reported that Russian servicemen had killed a number of high-ranking IS commanders and around 330 mid-ranking field commanders and private militants during the airstrike on the southern suburbs of Raqqa.

Other cautions, from Reuters: "A colonel with the Iraqi national security service told Reuters Baghdadi was not believed to have been in Raqqa at the time of the strike in late May".

She noted that the Russians have said they are still investigating whether al-Baghdadi was actually at the meeting they bombed. The group has lost many of its top commanders in USA -led airstrikes, including Fadhil Ahmad al-Hayali, said by US officials to be the second in command.

The army said Sukhoi jets carried out a 10-minute strike on May 28 at a location near Raqqa, where ISIL leaders had gathered to plan a pullout by its terrorists from the group's stronghold. Both are under attack by various groups fighting under the cover of airstrikes by the US-led coalition.

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Al-Baghdadi declared a caliphate in Syria and Iraq in June 2014 days after his fighters captured Mosul, the largest city they ever held.

If the Russians did kill Baghdadi, it would mark a major blow to the militant group, which has watched its territory shrink in the past year.

Russia's statement comes as the USA -led coalition tries to remove Islamic State from its self-declared capital of Raqqa, a city the jihadist group has brutalized since 2013, and used as a base to plot terrorist attacks in Europe.

Al Qaeda leaders later severed relations with him, saying he was insubordinate, killing too many civilians. The group claimed responsibility for twin attacks in Tehran this month.

CBS News correspondent Holly Williams reports that al-Baghdadi's whereabouts have been a mystery for years - and there have been many rumors of his death before. In March 2017, US defense officials said he left Mosul before Iraqi forces began their offensive to remove the group from Iraq's second-largest city.

There was no statement from Islamic State or other jihadist groups on Friday regarding his status.

Born Ibrahim al-Samarrai, Baghdadi is an Iraqi in his mid-forties, who broke away from al Qaeda in 2013 after years participating in the insurgency against USA forces in Iraq and the Iraqi government. It has offered a reward of up to United States dollars 25 million for information leading to his capture or death. But they are still battling die-hard militants around the Old City.