Mosul: The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights told Reuters on Tuesday that it had “confirmed information” that Islamic State leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi is dead.
Russia’s Defence Ministry said in June that it might have killed Baghdadi when one of its air strikes hit a gathering of Islamic State commanders on the outskirts of the Syrian city of Raqqa, but Washington said it could not corroborate the death and Western and Iraqi officials have been sceptical.
The report comes weeks after Russia said it was “highly likely” that the Daesh leader had been killed in an airstrike carried out by the Russian Air Force in Syria’s Raqqah city in May.
As per media reports, the Islamic State will announce the name of Baghdadi’s successor anytime soon.
Some experts are claiming that one of his top two lieutenants Iyad Al-Obaidi and Ayad Al-Jumaili could replace Al-Baghadadi.
“(We have) confirmed information from leaders, including one of the first rank, in the Islamic State in the eastern countryside of Deir al-Zor,” the director of the British-based war monitoring group Rami Abdulrahman told Reuters.
In the past, several media outlets have reported that Baghdadi is dead, but this information has never been formally confirmed.
The 45-year-old was the leader of a jihadist organisation, which controls territory in several countries.
In 2011, the US added him to a wanted list with a reward of millions of pounds of information or intelligence leading to his capture of death.
Abdulrahman said Observatory sources in Syria’s eastern town of Deir al-Zor had been told by Islamic State sources that Baghdadi had died “but they did not specify when”.
Iraqi and Kurdish officials did not confirm his death. The U.S. Department of Defence said it had no immediate information corroborate Baghdadi’s death.
Islamic State-affiliated websites and social media feeds have not carried any news regarding the leader’s possible death.
The death of Baghdadi, who declared a caliphate from a mosque in the Iraqi city of Mosul in 2014, would be one of the biggest blows yet to the jihadist group, which is trying to defend shrinking territory in Syria and Iraq.