Russia’s Defense Ministry announced that it is still verifying reports that the Islamic State’s self-appointed Khalif, Ibrahim Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, was killed by a Russian airstrike on the southern suburb of Syria’s Raqqa in late May, TASS reported Friday morning.
The airstrike was carried out overnight, May 28, against a command post where ISIS leaders were meeting, ostensibly to discuss the routes for the terrorists’ exit from Raqqa through the so-called southern corridor, the Defense Ministry’s statement said.
“According to information, which is being verified via different channels, the meeting was also attended by the ISIS leader Ibrahim Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, who was eliminated in the strike,” the announcement stated.
One of the reasons the Russians are being so careful with their announcement, which, if true, could usher in a sea change in US and Russian foreign policy, may have to do with past announcements made by the US Army that they had killed the ISIS leader – which culminated in al-Baghdadi releasing videos saying news of his demise had been premature.
According to the Defense Ministry, Russia’s Aerospace Forces killed a number of high-ranking ISIS commanders, including 330 field commanders and others in the southern suburb of Syria’s Raqqa in late May.
“The strike, carried out by Su-35 and Su-34 jets, destroyed high-ranking commanders of the terrorist group, who were part of the so-called military council of the IS, and also some 30 middle ranking field commanders and up to 300 militants who were their bodyguards,” the ministry said.
Among those killed,, according to the Defense Ministry, was Raqqa Emir Abu al-Hadji al-Mysri and Emir Ibrahim al-Naef al-Hadj, who controlled an area between Raqqa and Es-Suhne, as well as ISIS security chief Suleiman al-Shauah.
The Russian Defense Ministry emphasized that “the American side was notified in advance through interaction channels about the time and place of the Russian airstrike.”