Multiple reports indicate that ISIS leader Abu Bakr Al-Baghdad is dead. The Syrian Observatory of Human Rights has confirmed rumors and statements from Russian state media that suggested Al-Baghdad was killed in an airstrike near Raqqa, Syria. However, the despite confirmation from the oft-reliable Observatory, there is still some trepidation and disagreement about whether or not Al-Baghdad was amongst those killed in the strike.
For one thing, #ISIS has not publicly acknowledged Al-Baghdad’s death, and some ISIS news outlets are calling the report, essentially, fake news. That said, Agence France-Press indicates that the Syrian Observatory was working off ISIS sources to reach its conclusion. Another reason to take the report with a grain of salt is that the first reports that Al-Baghdad was killed came from the Russian state news outlet Sputnik. The U.S military is also among those who remain skeptical that Al-Baghdad was killed. Pentagon spokesman and U.S. Navy Captain Jeff Davis stated that “We have no information to corroborate those reports.”
Big wins against ISIS!
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) 11 luglio 2017
ISIS has been faced with numerous losses of late in Raqqa and Mosul — the latter city was just reclaimed by Iraqi forces. Russia and the United States also just brokered a Syrian ceasefire at the G20 Summit in Hamburg, Germany, during President Trump’s first in-person meeting with Vladimir Putin. It is unclear what link there might be, if any, between Russia’s decision to renew a ceasefire and the possibility that Al-Baghdad was killed. Nor is it clear how the United States, #Russia , and Assad might adjust their positions on the Syrian conflict if ISIS is no longer a player in the region.