Russia says it may have killed Islamic State leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi

Russia's military claimed Friday that it may have killed the Islamic State group leader in an airstrike in late May.

The country's defense ministry said it was verifying reports that Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi was killed on the southern outskirts of Syria’s Raqqa on May 28 along with other several senior commanders from the extremist group.

However, there was no independent confirmation and previous reports of Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi's death have turned out to be false.

Operation Inherent Resolve, the U.S. military's operational name for its actions against the Islamic State, or ISIS, in Iraq and Syria did not immediately return a request for comment.

Russia's defense ministry said Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi was killed as he attended a meeting to discuss ISIS's withdrawal from Raqqa, its de facto capital.

"The strike, carried out by Su-35 and Su-34 jets, destroyed high-ranking commanders of the terrorist group, who were part of the so-called military council of the ISIS, and also some 30 middle ranking field commanders and up to 300 militants who were their bodyguards," the ministry said.

If Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi's death is confirmed it would be a major blow to the jihadist group and self-declared caliphate as it is in retreat across Iraq and Syria.

The U.S. State Department's "Reward for Justice" program has a $25 million reward for information leading to his capture.

"Under al-Baghdadi, (ISIS) has been responsible for the deaths of thousands of civilians in the Middle East, including the brutal murder of numerous civilian hostages from Japan, the United Kingdom, and the United States. Al-Baghdadi has taken credit for numerous terrorist attacks in Iraq since 2011, killing thousands of his fellow Iraqi citizens," the RFJ's "Wanted" profile of him says.

© 2017 USATODAY.COM


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