The Defense Ministry in Russia revealed on Friday morning that Islamic State Leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi is believed to be one of the casualties in an airstrike that also killed as many as 330 other ISIS fighters. This claim has not been verified as of yet, but it was reported that it occurred at the end of May during one of the air strikes on the city of Raqqa in Syria.
This information came via a Facebook post from the Russian Defense Ministry today, according to CNBC News. The intel that the Russian had at the time was that the leader of ISIS, Baghdadi, was at a conference in the Syrian city of Raqqa at the time of the air strike.
According to the translated version of the Defense Ministry’s Facebook Post, the ISIS leader perished when the location of the conference was “liquidated” in the airstrike. The Facebook post also indicates that the Russian’s have checked various channels, which is where they’ve learned of the ISIS leader’s death.
This is the first time that Russia has claimed killing al-Baghdadi, despite previous reports of the leader’s death circulating. According to the BBC, past reports of Baghdadi’s death or reports that he had been critically injured have come out of U.S.-led coalition air strikes.
The news coming out of Russia included a breakdown of the casualties, which included 30 field commanders and up to 300 militant fighters killed in this strike. The 330-plus members of ISIS who reportedly died in this airstrike were near the town of Raqqa back on May 28 for an ISIS “meeting council,” reports CNBC.
If this report is verified to be accurate, this puts a substantial dent in the chain of command for ISIS. This report of Baghdadi’s death could not be confirmed, according to Colonel John Dorrian, who is the spokesperson for the U.S.-led coalition. The BBC reports that the Syrian government has not issued an official statement over Russia’s claims.
According to the Russian Defense Ministry, Washington was informed of the strike. Baghdadi has only made one public appearance to date and that was back in June of 2o14. This was right after ISIS had taken control of Mosul and Baghdadi took to a podium to deliver a sermon. According to CNBC, this was the start of this leader’s international prominence.
[Featured Image by Russian Defense Ministry Press/AP Images]