Raqqa/London June 12 (TNS): Syrian state television has claimed the world’s most wanted terrorist Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi has been killed in an airstrike, according to several reports.
It’s not, however, the first time the leader of ISIS has been reported dead – the latest claims have been met with skepticism by many experts and could well turn out to be untrue.
It would certainly be in the interests of the Assad regime to claim that the world’s most wanted terrorist had been killed to provide it with a short -term propaganda victory.
ISIS’s official media wing Amaq has also not confirmed the news.
Al-Baghdadi, a hate preacher who has a $25million bounty on his head, had been believed to be hiding out in the desert outside the besieged city of Mosul in northern Iraq.
But intelligence agencies believe he escaped from the city while it was being retaken by the Iraqi army.
It was thought he may have been trying to get to ISIS’ de facto capital in Raqqa.
Reports that al-Baghdadi had been killed emerged as Iraqi forces claimed that his deputy Ayad al-Jumaili, had been killed in an air strike near Iraq’s border with Syria.
The hate preacher, who has a $25million bounty on his head, has falsely reported dead before.
Syrian activists, Raqqa24, did report an airstrike in Raqqa killed at least seven civilians on Saturday, although there was no mention made of al-Baghdadi
In January it was reported the leader had been ‘critically injured in airstrikes in northern Iraq.
The Pentagon said in December it believed that the ISIS chief was alive, despite repeated efforts by the US-led coalition to take out the jihadist group leader.
‘We do think Baghdadi is alive and is still leading ISIL and we are obviously doing everything we can to track his movements,’ Pentagon spokesman Peter Cook told CNN.
‘If we get the opportunity, we certainly would take advantage of any opportunity to deliver him the justice he deserves,’ he said.
‘We’re doing everything we can. This is something we’re spending a lot of time on.’
According to an official Iraqi government document, al-Baghdadi was born in Samarra in Iraq in 1971.
He apparently joined the insurgency that erupted after the 2003 US-led invasion of Iraq and spent time in an American military prison.
The Britain-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights says 13 civilians have been killed in coalition air raids over the past 24 hours.
The U.S. is providing battlefield support to the Kurdish-led Syrian Democratic Forces trying to capture Raqqa from the Islamic State group
In March, the Pentagon told media outlets that al-Baghdadi was still alive despite reports that ISIS was crumbling.
Secretary of State Rex Tillerson later said that it was a ‘matter of time’ before the ISIS leader was killed.
‘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 Baghdadi himself meets the same fate,’ Tillerson said.
DailyMail.com has contacted the US Department of Defense for comment.
Meanwhile, the Britain-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights says 13 civilians have been killed in coalition air raids in Raqqa over the past 24 hours.
There was no immediate comment from the US-led coalition against the Islamic State group.
The United States is providing battlefield support to the Kurdish-led Syrian Democratic Forces trying to capture Raqqa from the Islamic State group.
Since launching the battle one week ago, the SDF has penetrated two neighborhoods in the city, at its eastern and western fringes. Courtesy The Mail