Russia has recently reported their defense ministry’s late-May airstrike might have killed ISIS Leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi. However, there is an understandable amount of skepticism circulating around their claims. Reports of Baghdadi’s death have been found to be incorrect in the past, but many are hopeful this time is different.
Russian Defense Ministry says they are still investigating the reports of Baghdadi’s death, which is said to have taken place during their attack along the border of the terrorist organization’s headquarters in the Syrian city of Raqqa.
The Russian Ministry of Defense said their airstrike was planned to target ISIS leaders, who were having a meeting to discuss their exit from the city. The Russian airstrike on May 28th reportedly targeted ISIS leadership—as well as about 30 mid-level commanders—along with roughly 300 militants who were functioning as bodyguards. After confirming the meeting and its location, the ministry carried out their attack from above.
In a statement, the ministry announced, “According to information that is being verified through various channels, the leader of ISIS…Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi was also present at the meeting and was killed as a result of the strike.”
So far, US-defense officials have been unable to verify the report of Baghdadi’s death. As reported, “Col. Ryan Dillon, a spokesman for the US-led coalition’s operation against ISIS in Syria and Iraq, said the coalition ‘cannot confirm these reports at this time.’”
Many are skeptical of Russia’s claims because there have been five reports of Baghdadi’s death in the last three years—all were proven to be false.
CNN Senior International Correspondent Clarissa Ward also cautioned that meeting in such a large group is atypical behavior for ISIS. She said due to the persistent threat of drone strikes and bombings, they do not usually engage in such meetings. Because of that, it’s crucial to be skeptical until confirmation is received.
Even so, many people are certainly hoping the Russian Defense Ministry’s report will ring true.