Russia claims its air strike last month killed Baghdadi
The Russian army said on Friday that one of its air strikes in Syria last month may have killed Islamic State chief Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, an information, the defence ministry said, it was checking.
The air strike was carried out near the city of Raqqa and it hit IS leaders, the Russian military said.
The air strike was launched after the Russian forces in Syria received intelligence that a meeting of Islamic State leaders was being planned, the defence ministry said in a statement posted on Facebook.
The statement says:
‘At the end of May (this year) the Headquarters of the Russian force grouping in the Syrian Arab Republic had received information about the meeting of leaders of the terrorist group ISIS (another acronym for IS) in the southern suburb of the city of Raqqa.’
On ‘28 may 2017 after confirming unmanned data about the place and time of the meeting of the ISIS leaders, from 00.35 to 00.45 (12.35 am to 12.45 am) (Moscow time) the Russian Aerospace Forces aviation made an air strike at the command post, where the leaders of the insurgents were.’
‘As a result of the attack, senior commanders of the terrorist group were eliminated, which were part of the so-called military council of ISIS, and about 30 field commanders and up to 300 militants of their personal security.’
The statement further reads:
‘According to information which is verified through various channels, the meeting was also attended by the leader of ISIS, Ibrahim Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, who was also killed during the airstrike.’
The statement said that the IS leaders had gathered at the command centre to discuss possible routes for the terrorists’ retreat from the city.
The United States was informed in advance about the place and time of the strike, the Russian military said.
Russian forces support the Syrian government which is fighting against Islamic State mainly from the west, while a US-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.
Born Ibrahim al-Samarrai, Baghdadi is a 46-year-old Iraqi who broke away from al Qaeda in 2013, two years after the capture and killing of the group’s leader Osama bin Laden.
The Iraqi-born world’s most-wanted man has been rumoured wounded or killed a number of times in the past.
He has been nicknamed ‘The Ghost’ as he has been reportedly spotted around the Syrian-Iraqi border but his whereabouts have never been confirmed.