Multiple sources have surfaced seeming to confirm that Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, the leader of the Islamic State (ISIS), was indeed killed in a Russian airstrike in Syria last month.

Russia said on June 17 its forces might have killed Baghdadi in an airstrike in Syria. Iran’s state news agency (IRNA) confirmed this last week when they quoted cleric Ali Shirazi, a representative of Iranian Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, as saying simply that al-Baghdadi was, “definitely dead”. An updated version of the article in IRNA removed the quote by Shirazi, casting grave doubts on the report.

Iran’s Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei (Photo: Twitter)

Washington said on Thursday it had no information to corroborate such reports. “We don’t have any concrete evidence on whether or not he’s dead either,” U.S. Army Colonel Ryan Dillon, spokesman for the international coalition battling Islamic State, told a Pentagon briefing.

Iraqi officials have also expressed doubt as the the veracity of the Russian report.

Iraqi News reported that Abu Qutaiba, an aide to al-Baghdadi, broke down in tears during a Friday sermon in the town of Tal Afar and “mumbled a few words suggesting his death”.

Al-Baghdadi is notoriously elusive and his last public appearance was last year when he gave a sermon in Mosul. Other than a video of that sermon, there exist only two authenticated photos of him. It is also reported that he wears a mask when he meets with his own commanders, earning the moniker, “the invisible sheikh”.

Al-Baghdadi is not his real name and little is known of the man. In 2004, he was arrested by US forces in Fallujah, Iraq. He was released ten months later, considered to be a low-level prisoner not worth further attention.

In 2014, al-Baghdadi declared himself caliph, the chief Muslim civil and religious ruler, regarded as the successor of the Prophet Mohammad

He was reported to be seriously injured in a US coalition airstrike in March 2015. He was later reported to be crippled, but soon after, he was reported to be back in charge of ISIS. He was reported to have been killed in three subsequent airstrikes, assassinated by poison, arrested by Syrian forces, and killed in an artillery strike.

In October 2011, the US officially designated Baghdadi as “terrorist” and offered a $10 million reward for information leading to his capture or death, increasing the amount to $25 million five years later.

If al-Baghdadi is indeed dead, he will likely be replaced by one of his two lieutenants, Iyad al-Obaidi and Ayad al-Jumaili, former Iraqi officers who served under Iraqi despot, Saddam Hussein.

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Source: Israel in the News