Isil leader Baghdadi dead, Syrian watchdog claims

Isil leader Baghdadi dead, Syrian watchdog claimsAbu Bakr al-Baghdadi, leader of Islamic State, is dead, according to a Syrian war monitor. "(We have) confirmed information from leaders, including one of the first rank, in the Islamic State in the eastern countryside of Deir al-Zor," Rami Abdel Rahman, director of the UK-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said. "We learned of it today but we do not know when he died or how." Russia's defence ministry said last month that it may have killed Baghdadi when one of its air strikes hit a gathering of Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (Isil) commanders on the outskirts of the Syrian city of Raqqa, but the US said it could not corroborate the death and Western and Iraqi officials have been sceptical. Russia said the air strike took place on May 28 and claimed a number of Isil’s senior leadership, including Baghdadi, was killed. However they have so far offered no proof. News of his death has not been independently verified by the Telegraph. The Pentagon said in a statement released today that the US has no information to corroborate reports. Baghdadi's death had been announced many times before but the Observatory has a track record of credible reporting on Syria's civil war. Baghdadi declared himself the head of Isil’s so-called caliphate, spanning across Syria and Iraq, in the summer of 2014. Islamic State leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi in 60 seconds 01:06 He made his first – and only – appearance from the Grand al-Nouri Mosque in Mosul. The claims of his death came a day after Iraq’s prime minister Haider al-Abadi declared the city – one of Isil’s most important strongholds – fully liberated from the jihadists. The world's most-wanted man has been rumoured wounded or killed a number of times in the past. The last sign of life he gave was in November last year after Iraqi forces supported by the aerial might of the coalition launched their reconquest of Mosul, the country's second city. Inside Baghdadi's neighbourhood 01:28 In an audio recording, he urged his men to defend Mosul to the bitter end and Iraqi elite forces have gained huge ground but are still battling die-hard jihadists around the Old City. Baghdadi was said to have left Mosul earlier this year and has since been reportedly spotted in various areas near the Syrian-Iraqi border. But his whereabouts were never confirmed. That low profile – a perfect antithesis to Osama bin Laden – is partly what Baghdadi, who has a $ 25-million US bounty on his head, had owed his rise as well as his survival to.

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