Although Iraq is skeptical about the report, Russia’s military believes it may have killed Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, the leader of ISIS, in an airstrike in Syria last month. The United States has confirmed that Russia conducted airstrikes there on May 28 but cannot confirm if the reclusive leader of the militant Islamic State was fatally injured.
According to reports, the strike was launched by Russian forces on the outskirts of Raqqa in Syria. Russia had received intelligence about a meeting of Islamic State leaders, and Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi was said to be in attendance and killed as a result of the strike.
Rumors about the death of the Islamic State Leader have been reported several times over the past few years. All those reports have been proven to be false. In the meantime, the Russian Defense Ministry stated on its Facebook page that it is continuing to gather more information to support its belief that the ISIS leader has been taken out.
The last time anyone saw proof of Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi’s existence was in 2014. He was captured in public video footage wearing black clerical robes declaring his caliphate from the pulpit of Mosul’s medieval Grand al-Nuri mosque. Since that time, however, the ISIS leader, believed to be in his mid-40s, has kept a low profile.
As of late, ISIS has experienced a number of setbacks losing key territories in both Syria and Iraq. ISIS is now under attack in Raqqa, which the military group has assigned as its capital.
The May 28th meeting which occurred nearby Raqqa also included other ISIS senior leaders, some 30 field commanders and about 300 personal guards. The Russian government claims that the United States was informed about the airstrike’s time and place.
On Monday, an audio message from ISIS was released, urging supporters to carry out attacks in the United States and Europe during the Muslim holy month of Ramadan. The religious festival ends on Sat., June 24th. There was no mention of Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, and the message was delivered by the military group’s chief spokesman Abu al-Hassan al-Muhajer.
Until absolute confirmation is published, the United States is doubtful the Islamic State Leader has perished in the airstrike. Military experts point to the recent trail of violence and murder ISIS has left behind in large terror attacks across London, Baghdad, Tehran and Kabul.