ISIS Leader Killed in Airstrike, Russia Claims

The Russian Defense Ministry said in a statement it was "checking this through various channels" to determine whether ISIS leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi was killed in an airstrike on May 28 targeting a command post where top ISIS officials were purportedly meeting in the outskirts of Raqqa, the terror group's de facto capital in Syria.

"Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi has been killed by coalition air strikes on Raqqa on the fifth day of Ramadan", the UK Mirror quoted a news agency as saying.

Moscow said on Friday its forces may have killed Islamic State leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi in an air strike in Syria last month, but Washington said it could not corroborate the death and Western and Iraqi officials were sceptical.

Questioning what Baghdadi would have been doing in that location, he said: "Is it reasonable that Baghdadi would put himself between a rock and a hard place of the (U.S. -led) coalition and Russian Federation?"

Russian Federation supports the Syrian government of President Bashar al-Assad, which is fighting against Islamic State fighters, one front in a multi-sided civil war.

"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.

Apart from Moscow's claim that he may have been killed in the May 28 airstrike along with more than 300 militants, there was not much else to back it up.

The claim comes almost three years to the day after al-Baghdadi declared himself the leader of IS from a historic mosque in Mosul, the largest city the group has ever held.

"The goal of the operation is the fight against terrorism, helping the legitimate Syrian leadership in the fight against terrorism", Peskov said when asked if Russia's strike on the positions of terrorists could change the USA rhetoric that Russian Federation was supposedly more interested in protecting President Bashar Assad rather than destroying Daesh.

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.

The group's current second-in-command following al-Anbari's death is believed to be Ayad Abdul-Rahman al-Obeidi, also known as Abu Saleh Haifa, a former Saddam Hussein army officer.

The Observatory said the dead included 10 Islamic State group members. As an arm of that nation's official propaganda, Russian media can not be taken at face value on issues of worldwide significance.

Al-Baghdadi declared a caliphate in Syria and Iraq in June 2014 days after his fighters captured Mosul, the largest city they ever held. Since then, it has horrified the world with mass killings and other atrocities in areas it controls, as well as claiming attacks around the world that killed hundreds. The U.S. State Department has offered a $25 million reward for information leading to his arrest. But Ganyard said Baghdadi's death, if confirmed to be true, may not have a lasting impact on the fight. "It has been retreating on all fronts, and the death of its leader will accelerate its demise".

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