(AP Photo/Militant video, File)

Russian airstrike may have killed ISIS leader Al-Baghdadi

The Russian defense ministry says that an airstrike that killed over 300 combatants included Al-Baghdadi


Taylor Link
June 16, 2017 1:13PM (UTC)

Russia's defense ministry announced in a Facebook post Friday that an airstrike it carried out last month killed ISIS leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi.

"According to information which is verified through various channels, the meeting was also attended by the leader of ISIS, Ibrahim Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, who was also killed during the airstrike," the Facebook post said.

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In televised remarks, Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov said he did not have "100 percent confirmation" of Baghdadi's death, NBC News reported.

The Pentagon and officials with the U.S.-led coalition fighting ISIS told NBC News that they were unable to confirm the report.

The ISIS leader was added to the Specially Designated Global Terrorist list in 2011. The U.S. State Department in 2016 put a bounty of $25 million for information leading to the death or capture of Al-Baghdadi.

In 2015, Al-Baghdadi was named the runner-up for Time magazine's "Person of the Year" award. The ISIS head was noted for his extreme violence and the "twisted religion" he was exporting around the globe.

He has been attributed for organizing ISIS militants. He also learned how to exploit the internet for recruitment. ISIS has had to rely on foreign fighters to fill its ranks and Al-Baghdadi knew that the internet could offer him a pipeline to disenchanted Muslims in Europe, Africa and the United States.

Over the years, there have been numerous reports of Al-Baghdadi's death or injuries, but none have proven to be true. If Russia is correct in its assessment, Al-Baghdadi's death would represent a major win for the Eastern European power, which has had to reaffirm time and time again that it is indeed fighting terrorism in the Middle East, as opposed to holding up the dying regime of despots.

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Taylor Link

Taylor Link is an assistant editor at Salon. You can find him on Twitter at @taylorlink_

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Airstrike Al-baghdadi Isis Russia Syria Terrorism

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