MOSCOW: The Russian army on Friday said it was seeking to verify whether IS chief Abu Bakr al Baghdadi was killed when its warplanes hit the group’s leaders in a night raid in Syria last month.
The United States said it could not immediately confirm whether Baghdadi, the undisputed leader of global militancy, was dead.
The elusive Iraqi-born militant is the world’s most-wanted man and has not been seen in public since proclaiming himself “caliph” in the Iraqi city of Mosul three years ago.
Russia’s army said Sukhoi warplanes carried out the 10-minute raid at a location near the IS stronghold of Raqa, where group leaders had gathered to plan a pullout from the area.
“Senior commanders of the military groups of the so-called IS military council, 30 mid-ranking field commanders and up to 300 militants who provided security for them were eliminated,” the army’s statement said.
“According to information which is being checked through various channels, the leader of ISIL Ibrahim Abu Bakr al Baghdadi was also present at the meeting and was eliminated by the strike,” it said.
ISIL is an acronym for the so-called IS group, also known as ISIS and Daesh.
Later at the meeting of President Vladimir Putin’s security council, Russia’s Defence Minister Sergei Shoigu gave different figures of militants killed in the strike, according to the Kremlin. — AFP