The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, a monitor group, on Tuesday confirmed the death of Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, the leader of Islamic State (IS).
“There is confirmed information” that al-Baghdadi has been killed, said the group, which has emerged as the main opposition source of information throughout Syria’s long-running conflict.
However, it did not provide more details about the death of the IS leader, who made only one public appearance in 2014 when he declared in Mosul, Iraq the establishment of Islamic State.
Quoting a brief statement issued by IS media, Iraqi news agency al-Sumaria News on Tuesday also reported that the militant group has confirmed the death of al-Baghdadi.
“Daesh organization (IS group) 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,” the report said.
The IS statement also said that it will name a new caliph (Islamic top leader) soon.
Rumors of al-Baghdadi’s death have appeared several times recently. Last month, Russia’s Foreign Ministry said its Air Force carried out an airstrike in Syria, possibly killing Baghdadi and several other high profile IS leaders.
The United States, however, said it could not confirm the death of al-Baghdadi.
If confirmed, the death of al-Baghdadi would be the latest in a string of fatal blows dealt to IS, including its loss of Mosul, its de facto capital in Iraq.
Iraqi Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi declared victory on Monday in its nine-month battle to liberate Mosul from the IS rule. This is a turning point in Iraq’s three-year anti-terror war.
IS is also under high pressure in Syria, where the U.S.-backed Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) is making progress in retaking Raqqa, IS de facto capital in Syria.
The Syrian government forces are also making an offensive against the terror group in the Syrian desert, making strides in the battle to eradicate IS in the areas near the Iraqi and Jordanian borders.
Al-Baghdadi, whose real name is Ibrahim Awad Ibrahim al-Badri, was born on July 28, 1971, in Iraq. He was imprisoned during the U.S. invasion of Iraq that started in 2003, during which he reportedly set up contacts with high-profile jihadists.
In June 2014, al-Baghdadi was elected by IS as their caliph, as the group took over large swaths of land in northern Iraq and Syria, including Mosul and Raqqa. (Xinhua)