The Islamic State's leader Baghdadi killed in Raqqa, reports Syrian State TV

News of Baghdadi's reported demise was met with widespread skepticism since similar reports have been proven false in the past, the Jerusalem Post reported. The SDF reported "fierce clashes between fighters and the terrorists" on the two fronts and said 23 Daesh members had been killed, without specifying in which neighbourhood or when.

Raqqa 24, an organization of Syrina activists, have confirmed that airstrikes in Raqqa killed at least seven civilians but made no mention of Al-Baghdadi.

In April a documentary claimed the world's most wanted man, who has a bounty of A$34 million on his head, avoided capture by Iraqi special forces "by minutes" after escaping through a trapdoor.

Bradley Schreiber, president of Homeland Security Solutions and a former senior adviser for the Department of Homeland Security, said al-Baghdadi's death would be a "tremendous blow" to ISIS, even if a new leader is waiting in the wings.

However, the British newspaper The Scotsman cited a tweet by terrorism analyst Michael Smith saying he has viewed the video and does not believe the body to be that of al-Baghdadi.

ISIS media claimed it recently had captured and kidnapped YPG members on the northwestern outskirts of the city, although there was no confirmation from YPG.

The region is well known to his men as the hotbed of the Sunni insurgency against US forces that invaded Iraq and later the Shi'ite-led governments that took over the country. In January, there were reports that he had been critically injured in air strikes in northern Iraq.

Shiite Muslims burn an effigy of the leader of the Islamic State group, Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi during a protest.

He grew up in a religious family, studied Islamic Theology in Baghdad and joined the Salaafi jihadist insurgency in 2003, the year of the US-led invasion of Iraq.

Secretary of State Rex Tillerson said al-Baghdadi would eventually be killed. Another source of photos and videos is Raqqa Is Being Slaughtered Silently, which has been described in a New York Times (NYT) article as a "monitoring group". "It is only a matter of time before Baghdadi himself meets the same fate", Tillerson said.

The Kurdish-led Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) said its fighters captured the neighbourhood of Romaniah after two days of fighting that left 12 Isil gunmen dead, including a commander known as Abu Khattab al-Tunsi.

  • Joanne Flowers