Confusion over the fate of Abu Bakr Al-Baghdadi continues to linger even as Russian Foreign Ministry said Thursday it’s “highly likely” the Islamic State group’s leader was killed in Russian airstrike earlier this month. Russian media cited Sergei Lavrov saying with a high degree of certainty that Baghdadi was eliminated.
Lavrov’s comments came hours after the ministry’s spokeswoman Maria Zakharova said that the ministry had no information on what may have happened to Baghdadi, state-run Russian news outlet TASS reported. Russian Deputy Foreign Minister Oleg Syromolotov told Sputnik, also a state-run outlet, that Baghdadi is dead.
“According to the Russian Defense Ministry, it is highly likely that Daesh leader al-Baghdadi was eliminated as a result of a Russian Aerospace Forces strike on the terrorists’ command post in the southern suburb of the city of Raqqa in late May this year,” Syromolotov said.
Last week, Russia’s defense ministry said it believed Baghdadi and up to 330 other ISIS fighters were killed in Raqqa when Russia-backed airstrikes hit the area on May 28. A Russian Su-34 aircraft and a Su-35 multirole reportedly carried out the strikes where Baghdadi and other fighters were attending a meeting.
“On May 28, after drones were used to confirm the information on the place and time of the meeting of ISIS leaders, between 00:35 and 00:45, Russian air forces launched a strike on the command point where the leaders were located,” a statement from the ministry said. “On May 28, after drones were used to confirm the information on the place and time of the meeting of ISIS leaders, between 00:35 and 00:45, Russian air forces launched a strike on the command point where the leaders were located.”
The U.S Department of State has designated Baghdadi as a Specially Designated Global Terrorist (SDGT). “We informed the American side in advance of the raid that is likely to have killed Baghdadi,” the ministry…