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Russia says it may have killed ISIS leader but US ‘can’t confirm’

Russia says it may have killed ISIS leader but US ‘can’t confirm’
June 16
10:47 2017

Russia’s defence ministry on Friday said it was checking information that its airstrike near the Syrian city of Raqqa may have killed ISIS leader, Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, in late May.

The air strike targeted a meeting of ISIS leaders and was carried out on May 28.

The strike is believed to have killed several other senior leaders of the group, as well as around 30 field commanders and up to 300 of their personal guards.

The ministry said the ISIS leaders had gathered at the command center to discuss possible routes for the militants’ retreat from the city.

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The Russian military said the US was informed in advance about the place and time of the strike.

“According to the information which is now being checked via various channels, Islamic State leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, who was eliminated by the air strike, was also present at the meeting,” RIA news agency quoted the ministry as saying.

However, the US-led coalition battling Islamic State on Friday said it could not confirm a Russia’s report.

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“We cannot confirm,” coalition spokesman John Dorrian told Reuters.

Born Ibrahim al-Samarrai, Al-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.

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.

He was caught by the Americans who released him about a year later as they considered him then as a civilian rather than a military target.

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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.

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