Thursday May 24, 2018
Home World Abu Bakr al-B...

Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi Dead? Experts Question His Death

Independent experts are expressing skepticism about the fast-spreading claims of the terrorist leader’s death, which reportedly was broadcast late Saturday on Syrian state television

0
//
134
Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi
This image taken from a militant website July 5, 2014, purports to show the leader of the Islamic State group, Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi. VOA
Republish
Reprint
  • Experts are showing skepticism about al-Baghdadi’s death
  • British-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights has confirmed intense air raids on Raqqa
  • Terrorism analyst Michael Smith cited after viewing the video that he do not believe the body to be that of al-Baghdadi

June 12, 2017: U.S. military officials say they have no information to confirm or deny a report Islamic State leader ISIS Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi has been killed in an air strike.

Independent experts are expressing skepticism about the fast-spreading claims of the terrorist leader’s death, which reportedly was broadcast late Saturday on Syrian state television. However, the British Broadcasting Corp’s monitoring service said Sunday it had detected no such report on either state television or Syria’s state news agency, SANA.

This undated frame grab from video posted online May 29, 2017, by the Aamaq News Agency, a media arm of the Islamic State group, shows people inspecting damage from airstrikes and artillery shelling in the northern Syrian city of Raqqa. VOA

A spokesperson on weekend duty at the U.S. Defense Department told VOA she had received queries about the reports but had no information to confirm or deny it.

Also Read: Invisible Sheikh of ISIS Abu Bakr Al-Baghdadi killed; how he built caliphate

Air raids on Raqqa

The British-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights has confirmed intense air raids on Raqqa, where anti-IS forces began a major offensive last week. Reports from the region say the Amaq news agency, which is publicly identified with Islamic State, showed video of a body purported to be that of al-Baghdadi.

However, the British newspaper The Scotsman cited a tweet by terrorism analyst Michael Smith saying he has viewed the video and does not believe the body to be that of al-Baghdadi.

Multiple previous claims that the IS leader had been killed have proven to be false. VOA

Click here for reuse options!
Copyright 2017 NewsGram

Next Story

Syrian Militia: End Is Near for Islamic State in Raqqa

0
//
44
Syria ISIS
Smoke rises near the stadium where the Islamic State militants are holed up after an airstrike by coalition forces at the frontline, in Raqqa, Syria. voa

Islamic State is on the verge of defeat in Syria’s Raqqa and the city may finally be cleared of the jihadists Saturday or Sunday, the Syrian Kurdish YPG militia told Reuters Saturday.

The U.S.-led coalition against Islamic State said around 100 of the jihadist group’s fighters had surrendered in Raqqa in the last 24 hours and had been “removed from the city,” but it still expected difficult fighting “in the days ahead.”

It did not say how the fighters had been removed or where the fighters had been taken.

The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said remaining Islamic State fighters were being transported out of Raqqa by bus under a deal between Islamic State, the U.S.-led coalition and the U.S.-backed Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF), which is dominated by the YPG. There was no immediate comment on that report from the coalition or the SDF.

Fighting since June

Civilians who escaped from Islamic State
Civilians who escaped from Islamic State militants rest at a mosque in Raqqa, Syria. voa

The SDF, backed by coalition airstrikes and special forces, has been battling since June to oust Islamic State from Raqqa city, formerly its de facto capital in Syria and a base of operations where it planned attacks against the West.

The final defeat of Islamic State at Raqqa will be a major milestone in efforts to roll back the group’s self-declared caliphate in Syria and Iraq, where earlier this year the group was driven from the city of Mosul.

“The battles are continuing in Raqqa city. Daesh (Islamic State) is on the verge of being finished. Today or tomorrow the city may be liberated,” YPG spokesman Nouri Mahmoud told Reuters by telephone.

In emailed comments to Reuters, coalition spokesman Ryan Dillon said about 100 Islamic State fighters had surrendered in Raqqa in the last 24 hours and were “removed from the city,” without giving further details.

“We still expect difficult fighting in the days ahead and will not set a time for when we think (Islamic State) will be completely defeated in Raqqa,” he said, adding that around 85 percent of Raqqa had been liberated as of Oct. 13.

Some civilians escape

Around 1,500 civilians had been able to safely make it to SDF lines within the last week, he added.

Omar Alloush, a member of a civilian council set up to run Raqqa, told Reuters late Friday that efforts were under way to secure the release of civilians and “a possible way to expel terrorist elements from Raqqa province,” without giving further details.

An activist group that reports on Raqqa, Raqqa Is Being Slaughtered Silently, said on its Facebook page Saturday that dozens of buses had entered Raqqa city overnight, having traveled from the northern Raqqa countryside.

The Observatory said Syrian Islamic State fighters and their families had left the city, and buses had arrived to evacuate remaining foreign fighters and their families. It did not say where they would be taken.

During the more than six-year Syrian war, the arrival of buses in a conflict zone has often signaled an evacuation of combatants and civilians.

The campaign against Islamic State in Syria is now focused on its last major foothold in the country, the eastern province of Deir el-Zour, which neighbors Iraq.
Islamic State is facing separate offensives in Deir el-Zour by the SDF on one hand, and Syrian government forces supported by Iranian-backed militia and Russian airstrikes on the other. (VOA)