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Has ISIS head Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi been killed?
Russia claimed on Friday, June 16 that it may have killed the leader of the Islamic State Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi in an airstrike targeting a meeting of ISIS leaders just outside the group's de facto capital Raqqa in Syria.

The Russian Defence Ministry said that Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi was killed in a Russian airstrike on May 28 along with about 30 middle level commanders and around 300 foot soldiers.

However, it needs to be remembered that previously also, Baghdadi was reported to have been killed but soon surfaced again. Baghdadi had last released an audio message on November 3 last year, urging his followers to keep up the fight for Mosul as they defended the city against a major offensive that had begun weeks earlier.

The report of Baghdadi's death comes in wake of the Islamic State suffering major setbacks in which they have lost wide areas of territory including both their strongholds — Mosul in Iraq and Syria's Raqqa. Both are under attack by various groups that are fighting under the cover of airstrikes by the US-led coalition.

US officials and Syrian activists claim that many ISIS commanders have fled Mosul and Raqqa in recent months for Mayadeen, a remote town in the heart of Syria's IS-controlled Euphrates River valley near the Iraqi border.

The claim of al-Baghdadi's demise comes nearly three years after he had declared himself the leader of an Islamic caliphate in Iraq and Syria, from a historic mosque in Mosul. If true, then it would mark a major military success for Russia, which has been conducting a military campaign in support of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad since September 2015.

The Russians say that they had prior intelligence inputs that Baghdadi was holding a meeting in order to withdraw from Raqqa to south. The Russian military initially sent drones to monitor the area and then dispatched a group of Su-34 bombers and Su-35 fighter jets to hit the ISIS gathering.

If true, Baghdadi's death will push the accelerator on ISIS's demise which has been retreating on all fronts.

Editorial NOTE: This article is categorized under Opinion Section. The views expressed in this article are solely those of the author and do not necessarily represent the views of merinews.com. In case you have a opposing view, please click here to share the same in the comments section.
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