Russian Forces Kill 2 More Islamic State Group Leaders in Syria

Russia's Defence Ministry said on Friday that it is verifying reports that one of its airstrikes killed Islamic State leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi on the southern outskirts of Syria's Raqqa.

The ministry's statement said the Russian airstrike may also have killed 330 terrorists, state-run Sputnik reported.

In a statement posted on Facebook by the Ministry, Russian forces in Syria carried out an airstrike following intelligence information that an Islamic State leader's meeting is being scheduled.

Al-Hashimi said the other IS leader, al-Beljiki, was unlikely to have been in Syria at the time of the attack.

REUTERS/Reuters TVThe image shows ISIS leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi.

"If he has been killed, of course it would deal a big blow to the group, but let's just look at the past few weeks - we've had major terror attacks in London, in Baghdad, in Tehran, in Kabul".

Islamic State fighters are close to defeat in the twin capitals of the group's territory, Mosul in Iraq and Raqqa in Syria, after almost three years ruling over millions of people in a wide area in both countries.

"The information is that as of the end of last month Baghdadi was in Deir al-Zor, in the area between Deir al-Zor and Iraq, in Syrian territory", he said by phone.

There have been multiple reports of Baghdadi's death in the past that have turned out to be false.

"According to information that is being checked through various channels, IS leader Ibrahim Abu-Bakr al-Baghdadi, was also present at the meeting and was killed as a result of the strike, " the ministry said in a statement.

Islamic State fighters are close to defeat in the twin capitals of the group's territory, Mosul in Iraq and Raqqa in Syria, after almost three years ruling over millions of people in a wide swathe of territory in both countries.

Al-Baghdadi is a nom de guerre for a man identified as Ibrahim Awwad Ibrahim Ali al-Badri al-Samarrai.

Reports suggest he was a cleric in a mosque in the city around the time of the US-led invasion in 2003. Reports suggest he was radicalised during the four years he was held at Camp Bucca, a U.S. prison in southern Iraq where many al-Qaeda commanders were detained.

So far, there has been minimal reaction from online supporters of IS to news of the reported death of the group's leader, BBC Monitoring reports.

He said the claims should be taken "with a heavy grain of salt", adding that "there's no logical reason imaginable" why al-Baghdadi would have risked staying in a surrounded, sitting target with US -led forces only days away from launching their final assault on Raqqa.

IS normally does not rush to confirm the death of leadership figures, and would belatedly and sometimes indirectly announce them in general messages or by naming military campaigns after the deceased leader.

  • Leroy Wright