Islamic state chief Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi was reported dead on Tuesday, according to Syrian monitoring group and an Iraqi TV news channel. “Top tier commanders from IS who are present in Deir Ezzor province have confirmed the death of Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, emir of the Islamic State group, to the Observatory,” group’s director Rami Abdel Rahman told AFP.
The observatory said it learnt of his death on Tuesday but how and when he died is still not clear. “We learned of it today but we do not know when he died or how.” it said. Iraqi and Kurdish officials did not confirm his death. The US Department of Defence said it had no immediate information to corroborate Baghdadi’s death.
The 46-year-old Iraqi-born leader of ISIL has not been seen in public since making his only known public appearance as “caliph” in 2014 at the Grand Mosque of al-Nuri in Mosul. The latest development comes days after Iraq Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi announced the defeat of the IS in Mosul after a long drawn campaign.
It’s not the first time that report of Baghdadi’s death is making rounds but the Observatory is known for its track record of credible reporting on Syria’s civil war.
Earlier in June, the Russian defence ministry had suggested that one of its air strikes might have killed Baghdadi when it hit a gathering of Islamic State commanders on the outskirts of the Syrian city of Raqqa Russia had claimed it had “eliminated” about 330 commanders and fighters of the group in the air strikes.
The United States had offered a bounty of USD 25 million on Baghdadi’s head , the same amount it had put up for al Qaeda leader Osama bin Laden and his successor Ayman al-Zawahri.