The elusive leader of ISIS, the ‘Caliph’ Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi has been killed in an air strike in Syria, the Al Sumaria TV channel reported on Tuesday citing a source in Iraq’s Nineveh province.
“According to the source, IS gunmen issued a brief statement announcing that their leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi is dead and the name of the “new caliph”, it was reported by the Russian news agency TASS.
Britain-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights told Reuters it has “confirmed information” of his death.
BREAKING Islamic State leader Abu Bakr Al-Baghdadi has been killed – Syrian Observatory for Human Rights says it has "confirmed information" pic.twitter.com/zFtGqXlNqE
— Reuters Top News (@Reuters) July 11, 2017
“(We have) confirmed information from leaders, including one of the first rank, in [Isis territory] in the eastern countryside of Deir Ezzor,” director of the UK-based group Rami Abdulrahman told Reuters on Tuesday.
The Arabic Al Masdar news reported that an ISIS gunman issued a brief statement confirming Baghdadi’s death and that his heirs name will soon be announced.
A month ago, Russia has claimed Baghdadi had been killed in an air strike in Syria, but the information was not confirmed. Russian Defense Ministry said that Baghdadi, along with 300 gunmen, had been killed by a Russian air strike in late May.
The news of Baghdadi’s death come after ISIS militants suffered a defeat in the battle of Mosul, after nearly nine months of heavy fighting in urban areas. Iraqi security forces had managed to recapture almost all areas of the city. Iraqi’s PM Haider al-Abadi proclaimed Mosul liberated from IS.
Mosul was by far the largest city under IS control, and their main stronghold in Iraq. However, ISIS militants still control large swaths of territory in Iraq and Syria.
According to several media reports, ISIS called its fighters to continue their resistance.
“Daesh called on the (IS) militants to continue their steadfastness in the redoubts of the caliphate and not being dragged behind the sedition,” said a report in Iraqi news agency al-Sumaria.
There is still no definitive confirmation that Baghdadi had been killed, however. ISIS official news agency, Amaq, is yet to confirm the information.