Syrian state television is reporting that ISIS leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi has been killed. The report claims that al-Baghdadi was killed in an airstrike that took place Saturday in Raqqa. It is also reported that seven civilians died.
The news, although welcome, is being met with skepticism after previous false reports of the terrorist’s death.
While the Assad regime certainly wants to believe that they killed the world’s most wanted terrorist, the news of his death has not been confirmed by the Amaq News Agency, which is linked to ISIS.
Contrary to the Syrian TV reports, local activists who witnessed the deadly airstrike did not make any mention of al-Baghdadi’s death.
Believed to be hiding out in the desert near the besieged city of Mosul in northern Iraq, Al-Baghdadi has a $25 million bounty on his head.
According to Iraqi forces, al-Baghdadi’s deputy, Ayad al-Jumaili was killed in an airstrike near Iraq’s border with Syria, and it was reported in January that the ISIS leader had been “critically injured in airstrikes in northern Iraq.”
Back in December, Pentagon officials were convinced that rumors of the jihadist group leader’s death were false. “We do think al-Baghdadi is alive and is still leading ISIL and we are obviously doing everything we can to track his movements,” said spokesman Peter Cook. “If we get the opportunity, we certainly would take advantage of any opportunity to deliver him the justice he deserves. We’re doing everything we can. This is something we’re spending a lot of time on.”
Born in Samarra in Iraq in 1971, according to an official Iraqi government document, al-Baghdadi apparently joined the insurgency after the 2003 US-led invasion of Iraq and was incarcerated for a period of time in an American military prison.
If the terrorist leader is not really dead, Secretary of State Rex Tillerson believes that he will be soon. “Nearly all of Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi’s deputies are now dead, including the mastermind behind the attacks in Brussels, Paris, and elsewhere. It is only a matter of time before al-Baghdadi himself meets the same fate,” he said.
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