Moscow: Russia’s Defence Ministry said on Friday it is investigating if one of its air strikes near the Syrian city of Raqqa has killed Islamic State leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi in late May this year.
The air strike, targeted a meeting of Islamic State leaders and was carried out on May 28, the agencies cited the ministry as saying.
According to the information, Islamic State leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, who has reportedly been eliminated by the air strike, was also present at the meeting.
The air strike was launched after the Russian forces in Syria received intelligence that a meeting of Islamic State leaders was being planned.
The strike is believed to have killed several other senior leaders of the group, as well as around 30 field commanders and up to 300 of their personal guards, the Russian defence ministry statement said.
The United States was informed in advance about the place and time of the strike, the Russian military said.
The last public video footage of Baghdadi shows him dressed in black clerical robes declaring his caliphate from the pulpit of Mosul’s medieval Grand al-Nuri mosque back in 2014.
Born Ibrahim al-Samarrai, Baghdadi is a 46-year-old Iraqi who broke away from al Qaeda in 2013, two years after the capture and killing of the group`s leader Osama bin Laden.
Rami Abdulrahman, director of the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, cast doubt on the report Baghdadi may have been killed. He said that according to his information, Baghdadi was located in another part of Syria at the end of May.
Questioning what Baghdadi would have been doing in that location, he said, “Is it reasonable that Baghdadi would put himself between a rock and a hard place of the (U.S.-led) coalition and Russia?”