After a Russian defense ministry spokesperson openly questioned whether the U.S. special operations mission that resulted in the death of Islamic State leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi actually happened at all, as The Inquisitr reported, Russia’s government-controlled media piled on. Multiple Kremlin-connected media outlets dismissed the Sunday morning announcement by Donald Trump as nothing but propaganda.
“Trump has elections coming up in a year and this announcement of al-Baghdadi’s liquidation will add some points for the Commander-in-Chief,” said Denis Davydov, a U.S. correspondent for the state-run TV network, Rossiya-24.
The remarks were reported by investigative reporter and Russia expert Julia Davis, in a roundup of Russian response to Trump’s Sunday address published by The Daily Beast.
BBC Moscow correspondent Steve Rosenberg, reporting via Twitter, also noted that Russia appeared deeply skeptical of Trump’s claim that U.S. forces had killed al-Baghdadi.
Rosenberg quoted the defense ministry as saying it had “valid doubts about the reality & success” of the announced operation that, according to Trump, ended with the 48-year-old al-Baghdadi detonating a suicide vest, killing himself as U.S. special operators closed in on him. The Russians also said that they knew of “no air strikes by US or coalition forces” in the “de-escalation” zone centered in the northwestern Syria province of Idlib.
But the Russian defense spokesperson said that the Idlib region was not in the control of the Islamic State, but of a Syrian Al Qaeda faction known as Jebhat al-Nusra, according to Davis’ report. The Russians claimed that al-Baghdadi was unlikely to have been present in the area, because al-Nusra terrorists have “uncompromisingly exterminated any [Islamic State] representatives on the spot as the main rivals for power in Syria,” as quoted by Davis.
Also on Saturday, Davis reported, Russia’s Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov spoke by phone with U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo. In that call, Lavrov warned Pompeo that Russia considered Trump’s claim that U.S. forces would be “protecting the local oilfields” to be a violation of international law. Oilfields in the region are the property of the Russia-supported Syrian government of President Bashar al-Assad, Lavrov reportedly told Pompeo.
Russia’s strong suggestion that Trump was lying about U.S. forces causing al-Baghdadi’s death may seem familiar to the Russians, who also once claimed to have killed the Islamic State leader themselves, as Time reported.
But the Russian claim that al-Baghdadi died in a May 28, 2017, airstrike was one of a series of claims from various sources that al-Baghdadi had been killed. On June 10, 2017, just two weeks after Russia claimed it had killed him, the Syrian government also said that it killed the terrorist chieftain in a bombing raid on the Islamic State-controlled city of Raqqa, Syria.