Russia claims it killed two more Islamic State commanders in Syria: Ifax

Russia claims it has killed IS leader al-Baghdadi

Russia's Defence Ministry said on Friday that it is verifying reports that one of its airstrikes killed Islamic State leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi on the southern outskirts of Syria's Raqqa.

Russian Federation announced on Tuesday that they are unable to confirm the death of IS leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi.

Born Ibrahim al-Samarrai, Baghdadi is a 46-year-old Iraqi who broke away from al Qaeda in 2013, two years after the capture and killing of the group's leader Osama bin Laden. ISIS released an audio message from a spokesman on Monday, calling on supporters to carry out more Ramadan attacks in the United States and Europe, but it did not mention Baghdadi.

An interesting wrinkle presented by the Associated Press is that while ISIS might be able to continue functioning at a strategic and administrative level without Baghdadi, he would be very hard to replace as "caliph" of the Islamic State because the terror group's mythology reserves that position for descendants of Mohammed's Quraish tribe.

Who is Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi?

If true, then it would mark a major military success for Russian Federation, which has been conducting a military campaign in support of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad since September 2015.

The U.S. -led coalition's military campaign is focused on ousting ISIS from its strongholds in Raqqa and in the Iraqi city of Mosul.

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There have been a number of previous reports of Baghdadi's death or him being critically injured by US-led coalition air strikes.

The Russian defence ministry said on its Facebook page that it was checking information that Baghdadi was killed in the strike, launched after Russia received intelligence about a meeting of Islamic State leaders.

Islamic State fighters are close to defeat in the twin capitals of the group's territory, Mosul in Iraq and Raqqa in Syria, after almost three years ruling over millions of people in a wide swathe of territory in both countries.

Baghdadi is believed to be present at the said gathering and the ministry reportedly has a reason to believe that he died in the airstrike.

There has been no official comment from Syria's government. Baghdadi gained worldwide notoriety after ISIS seized Mosul, Iraq's second-biggest city, in June 2014 before claiming swathes of territory and launching deadly attacks on Western cities, including Paris and London.

The Britain-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, which tracks Syria's war, said airstrikes on the road linked the villages of Ratla and Kasrat killed 18 people, while the activist-operated group Raqqa is Being Slaughtered Silently said 17 civilians were killed in the airstrike on buses carrying civilians. "So far, I have no 100 per cent confirmation of this information yet", Lavrov said during a news conference in Moscow.

Other state media reported that more than 300 "terrorists" were killed in the strike.

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