ISIS Confirms Leader al-Baghdadi Has Been Killed

One month after Russia reported that it had likely killed Islamic State leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi during a May airstrike in Syria, moments ago ISIS declared that its supreme leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi has died, Al Masdar news reported, with the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights telling Reuters it has "confirmed information" of his death. 

According to AMN, ISIS gunmen issued a brief statement announcing that their leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi is dead and the name of the “new caliph”, and adds that some Iranian media outlets earlier circulated images confirming al-Baghdadi’s death. The terrorist group, which recently lost its Iraqi stronghold of Mosul, said it will soon announce a successor to Baghdadi.

"Daesh organisation (IS) circulated a brief statement through its media in the (IS-held) town of Tal Afar in the west of Mosul, confirming the killing of its leader al-Baghdadi without giving further details," Xinhua news agency cited Iraqi news agency al-Sumaria News as saying.

"Daesh called on the (IS) militants to continue their steadfastness in the redoubts of the caliphate and not being dragged behind the sedition," the report said, although with the Islamic State no longer necessary as i) Qatar no longer has any ambitions for a European gas pipeline and ii) Russia and the US signing a ceasefire in Syria and iii) Assad's job is now safe, it is very likely that the days of the Islamic State are now numbered, if not of its expats currently living somewhere in Europe.

Earlier this month, an ISIS preacher and leader was executed by the militants after he accidentally suggested that al-Baghdadi had died. Senior ISIS leader and preacher, Abu Qutaiba was burned to death in the group's stronghold town of Tal Afar, Alsumaria News reported. It appears he was right.

The confirmation of Baghdadi's death came a day after Iraqi Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi formally declared Mosul liberated from the IS after nearly nine months of fierce fighting to dislodge the extremist militants from their last major stronghold in Iraq.

Al-Baghdadi's last appearance was in a video clip showing him making the sermon proclaiming the establishment of an Islamist 'caliphate' in Mosul's Grand Nuri Mosque in June 2014.  Al-Baghdadi, a preacher who has a $25million bounty on his head, was believed to have been hiding out in the desert outside the besieged city of Mosul in northern Iraq. In January it was reported the leader had been 'critically injured in airstrikes in northern Iraq.'

The Pentagon said in December it believed that the ISIS chief was alive, despite repeated efforts by the US-led coalition to take out the jihadist group leader. According to an official Iraqi government document, al-Baghdadi was born in Samarra in Iraq in 1971. He apparently joined the insurgency that erupted after the 2003 US-led invasion of Iraq and spent time in an American military prison.