Russia’s Defense Ministry has said it is probing if a Russian airstrike in Syria killed “IS” head Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi in late May. The strike targeted a meeting of IS leaders that Baghdadi reportedly attended.
The Russian Defense Ministry said on Friday it is trying to verify whether an airstrike in the Syrian city of Raqqa killed the leader of the self-proclaimed “Islamic State” (IS) group, Russian news agencies reported.
The strike targeted a meeting of IS leaders and was carried out on May 28, Russian news agency TASS said, adding that the militant group’s leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi was likely in attendance.
According to the ministry, the strike came as IS leaders met to discuss the group’s withdrawal from Raqqa, the group’s de facto capital and the scene of its most gruesome atrocities.
If the reports are verified, Baghdadi’s death would be a major military success for Russia, which has been carrying out a military campaign in support of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad since September 2015.
The Iraqi-born IS leader has not been seen in public since proclaiming himself “caliph” three years ago in the Iraqi city of Mosul. Baghdadi, one of the world’s most-wanted men, has been reported to be wounded or killed a number of times in the past.