The Russian military said Friday it is investigating whether an airstrike in the Syrian desert has killed Abu Bakr Baghdadi, Islamic State’s self-described “caliph.”
The death of one of the world’s most-wanted jihadist leaders would be a military victory for Russia and a setback for the militants, who are battling for control of strongholds in Iraq and Syria, including their de facto capital in Raqqah.
“If confirmed, Baghdadi’s death will be a powerful blow to the IS. It has been retreating on all fronts, and the death of its leader will accelerate its demise,” tweeted Alexei Pushkov, the head of the upper house of the Russian parliament’s committee for information policies.
Igor Korotchenko, a member of the Russian Ministry of Defense’s Public Council, an advisory board, said the death of the Islamic State leader would dramatically change Russia’s operation in Syria, speeding their war on terror.
Baghdadi, whose real name is Ibrahim Awwad Ibrahim Ali Badri Samarrai, may have been killed when the Russian Air Force struck a meeting of Islamic State leaders on May 28 outside Raqqah, according to a statement released by the Russian Defense Ministry.“
Baghdadi, believed to be in his early 40s, has a $25-million U.S. bounty on his head. He is regarded as perhaps the most powerful and influential jihadi militant in the world, a former Islamist preacher who threatened to rewrite the map of the Middle East.
Source: LA Times