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Russian Federation says it 'may have killed' ISIS leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi

Russian Federation says it 'may have killed' ISIS leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi

On Friday, #Russia's Ministry of Defense said it was cross-examining information to confirm if an airstrike by Russian forces may have killed #ISIS leader Abu Bakr al-#Baghdadi near Raqqa in Syria late May.

The airstrike was carried out on May 28 against a command post, where the IS group's leaders were meeting to discuss the routes for the terrorists' exit from Raqqa through the "southern corridor", the ministry said in a statement.

But US Army Colonel Ryan S. Dillon, spokesman for the coalition's Operation Inherent Resolve in Syria and Iraq, said: "We can not confirm these reports at this time".

Several other top leaders of the group are also believed to have been killed, the report said.

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

Baghdadi's whereabouts have been unknown for some time, although he was believed to be in Mosul in Iraq before a US-led coalition began an effort to reclaim the city in October 2016. Russian Federation says it is verifying whether it killed Baghdadi.

Who is Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi?

"Russia has a long track record of issuing fake claims and deliberate misinformation during its campaign in Syria", said Charles Lister, a senior fellow at the Washington-based Middle East Institute.

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ISIS fighters are close to defeat in the twin capitals of the group's territory, Mosul in Iraq and Raqqa in Syria. Al Qaeda leaders later severed relations with him, saying he was insubordinate, killing too many civilians.

Russian Federation sent an air force contingent to Syria in September 2015 to shore up President Bashar al-Assad, bombing both IS and other rebel groups opposed to the government.

Coalition forces led by the United States stated that it could not verify the Russian claim that Abu Baghdadi may have been eliminated.

The Russian military sent drones to monitor the area and then dispatched a group of Su-34 bombers and Su-35 fighter jets to hit the Islamic State gathering.

By restricting individual U.S.travel to Cuba, the new policy also risks cutting off a major source of income for Cuba's private business sector, which the policy is meant to support.

Al-Baghdadi is a nom de guerre for a man identified as Ibrahim Awwad Ibrahim Ali al-Badri al-Samarrai. The U.S. State Department has offered a $25 million reward for information leading to his arrest.

Information for this article was contributed by Bassem Mroue, Lolita C. Baldor and Robert Burns of The Associated Press.