The reports that Islamic State leader Abu Bakr al-Baghadi has been killed in a US coalition airstrike have not been confirmed or denied by US military officials.
The airstrike on late Saturday was broadcast on Syrian state television. But the British and others have reported that no report has surfaced on either state television or the official news agency SANA.
These reports of al-Baghadi’s demise have been premature many times in the past and it would seem that this latest one is another despite US hopes to the contrary. Al-Baghadi would seemingly have nine lives like a cat if half the rumors surround him were true.
Independent experts are expressing skepticism about the fast-spreading claims of the terrorist leader’s death, which reportedly was broadcast late Saturday on Syrian state television. However, the British Broadcasting Corporation’s monitoring service said Sunday it had detected no such report on either state television or Syria’s state news agency, SANA.
A spokesperson on weekend duty at the U.S. Defense Department told VOA she had received queries about the reports but had no information to confirm or deny it.
The British-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights has confirmed intense air raids on Raqqa, where anti-IS forces began a major offensive last week. Reports from the region say the Amaq news agency, which is publicly identified with Islamic State, showed video of a body purported to be that of al-Baghdadi.
However, the British newspaper The Scotsman cited a tweet by terrorism analyst Michael Smith saying he has viewed the video and does not believe the body to be that of al-Baghdadi.
Al-Baghdadi has a £20 million bounty on his head because of his sermons that inspired suicide attacks across Europe and his death would be a propaganda win for the Assad government. He also propagated the sex-trade and would sell or give captive Yadizi girls to ISIS fighters as gifts for victories. He personally raped many of them including American aid worker Kayla Mueller who was kidnapped and then killed in a bombing raid by the Jordanians in 2014.
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Photos courtesy VOA
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