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'Highly Likely' ISIS Leader al-Baghdadi Killed in Russian Airstrike? Maybe

Russia's Deputy Foreign Minister says it's 'highly likely' al-Baghdadi was killed by a Russian airstrike

This post first appeared on Russia Insider

Is ISIS big cheese Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi finally dead? Maybe. 

Russian Deputy Foreign Minister Oleg Syromolotov told Russian state media on Thursday that it's "highly likely" al-Baghdadi was killed in an airstrike near Raqqa on May 28. 

Last week, the Russian Ministry of Defense announced that an airstrike conducted at the end of May near Raqqa, Syria, wiped out a "military council of ISIS", which included 30 senior field commanders and up to 300 militants—and possibly also al-Baghdadi.

Since then, Russian officials have been careful not to spike the proverbial football.

But according to Syromolotov, al-Baghdadi's status as a dead person has now been "verified through various channels."

Great. But now what?

There are no sources aside from the Russian government to corroborate this story, and it's basically impossible to verify (unless Abu magically appears somewhere, but even then, would it really be him?)—so it's sort of a take-it-or-leave-it situation. 

And for the last few years, there's basically been a cottage industry focused on the comings-and-goings of the mythical Baghdadi. All of it highly fishy. (Think: Osama bin Laden.)

Tabloid speculation. It's been going on for years


<figcaption>Photograph of the airstrike that allegedly took out al-Baghdadi</figcaption>
Photograph of the airstrike that allegedly took out al-Baghdadi

Just to be clear: We're not trying to rain on anyone's parade (actually, if there's one legit story here, it's that the Russians aren't parading this news around—a refreshing change of pace from the monthly "we killed the al-Qaeda No. 2 guy, again!" announcements from Washington). 

Is Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi dead? Sure? Maybe? We'll probably never know if the weirdo even existed to begin with. 

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