World

Baghdadi could have been killed in Russian air raid

MOSCOW: The Russian army yesterday said it was seeking to verify whether Islamic State in Iraq and Syria (ISIS) chief Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi had been killed after its warplanes hit the group's leaders in a night raid in Syria last month.

In a statement, the army said Sukhoi warplanes carried out a 10-minute strike early on May 28 at a location near Raqa, where ISIS leaders had gathered to plan a pullout by militants from the group's stronghold.

"Senior commanders of the military groups of the so-called ISIS military council, 30 mid-ranking field commanders and up to 300 militants who provided security for them were eliminated," it said.

"According to information which is being checked through various channels, the leader of ISIS Ibrahim Abu-Bakr al-Baghdadi was also present at the meeting and was eliminated by the strike."

CANNOT CONFIRM

The US-led coalition said it could not immediately confirm Baghdadi's death.

"We cannot confirm these reports at this time," said Operation Inherent Resolve spokesman US Army Colonel Ryan Dillon.

The strike occurred on the night of May 27 after confirmation of the meeting by a drone. Those killed included the so-called emir of Raqa and the ISIS security chief, the Russian statement said.

Russia informed the US about the attack, the statement added.

Baghdadi has been rumoured wounded or killed a number of times in the past.

He has been nicknamed "The Ghost" as he has been reportedly spotted around the Syrian-Iraqi border but his whereabouts have never been confirmed. - AFP

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