Russian airstrike said to have killed ISIS chief Al-Baghdadi
Russian Defence Ministry is said to be investigating earlier claims made by an official spokesman that a Russian airstrike on May 28 had killed Al-Baghdadi and over 300 of his men somewhere in Syria
Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi , the self-styled head of the Islamic State (IS) caliphate, is reportedly dead. Russian military sources on Friday claimed that al-Baghdadi, along with other ISIS leaders and commanders, was killed in a Russian airstrike on May 28 outside Raqqa, the Syrian town under ISIS control.
American authorities have refused to confirm the Russian claim but they, too, have made the similar statement quoting Russian sources.
Baghdadi was reportedly holding a meeting of senior ISIS leaders and his commanders outside Raqqa, sometime around midnight, when Russian sources tipped off their air force base in Syria. The information was apparently confirmed by Syrian intelligence too.
Russian aircrafts soon launched an operation, hitting the meeting area where Baghdadi along with 30 other top ISIS leaders were killed, a Kremlin official spokesperson declared in an official statement.
Russian military sources declared that two Sukhoi fighter jets, Su-34s and Su-35s, carried out the strike on the meeting of ‘’high level commanders of the terrorist group within the so-called military council of the Islamic State.” The strike is said to have killed 30 ISIS field commanders and 300 fighters.
The strike is said to have taken place between 12.35 and 12.45 AM, according to Russian sources.
Russian intelligence is said to have been tipped off about this meeting sometime in late May when al-Baghdadi is said to have planned the retreat of ISIS forces from Raqqa, where they are under siege like in Mousal in Iraq, The New York Times reported.
Al-Baghdadi’s death, if confirmed, will be a major blow to the first Islamic caliphate, formed after the collapse of the Turkish caliphate in 1920s. The ISIS is already on retreat in Iraq, where it has been confined only to the southern parts of Mosul, the second largest Iraqi city with heavy concentration of Sunni population.
Baghdadi had declared the formation of an Islamic caliphate, nominating himself its caliph from a medieval Al Noori mosque in Mosul sometime in June 2014. He had been leading an underground life since then.
The declaration of an Islamic Caliphate had charged many Muslim youths from across continents, who heeded Baghdadi’s call of jihad against the West and flocked in thousands to Syria and Iraq, participating in one of the bloodiest wars of the 21st century.
The ISIS made quick headway capturing huge Iraqi and Syrian territory controlling oil fields, banks and other economic assets in both the countries. It is reported to have received huge financial backing from many rich Arab charities. It unleashed a reign of terror both inside Iraq and Syria as well as in many European counties like France, Sweden and England.
The ISIS’ most recent and deadly operation took place in Manchester, England, where a lone wolf of Libyan origin blew himself up at a concert, killing scores of young men, women and children.
The ISIS is withering away. Baghdadi’s death, if confirmed, will sound its death knell. One has to wait and watch whether the spectre of terrorism will also die with Baghdadi, or if it takes a new shape as it did with the virtual disintegration of Al-Qaeda, whose leader Osama bin Laden was killed by American forces inside Pakistan, another major source of terrorist politics.