16 June 2017
Russian President Vladimir Putin, “being the Commander-in-Chief of the Russian Armed Forces, receives reports from the Defense Ministry on a regular basis,” Kremlin’s Press Secretary Dmitry Peskov said, answering a question on whether the leader of the Islamic State (IS, terror organization outlawed in Russia) Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi had been killed.
Answering reporters’ questions, the Kremlin spokesman refused to weigh the Russian airstrike on Raqqa’s southern suburbs that had presumably killed the IS leader. “The Defense Ministry may consider the result of the airstrike from both tactical and strategic points of view,” he explained. Peskov also redirected the question on al-Baghdadi’s possible death to the Defense Ministry.
Earlier Russia’s Defense Ministry reported that it was checking information on the death of the IS leader.
According to the ministry, the airstrike was conducted overnight into May 28 on a command post where the IS leaders were discussing exit routes for militants from Raqqa through the so-called southern corridor.
“According to information that is being looked into now through various channels, IS leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi also took part in the meeting and was killed in the airstrike,” a report from the Defense Ministry said.
The Defense Ministry also reported that Russian servicemen had killed a number of high-ranking IS commanders and around 330 mid-ranking field commanders and private militants during the airstrike on the southern suburbs of Raqqa.
“High-ranking terrorist commanders that were members of the so-called IS war council, as well as 30 mid-ranking field commanders and up to 300 militants who served as their personal guards were destroyed during the airstrike conducted by Su-35 and Su-34 warplanes,” the ministry reported.
According to the ministry, among those liquidated were “Abu Al-Hajji Al-Misri (emir of Raqqa), Ibrahim Al-Naef Al-Hajj (he controlled the whole region between Raqqa and Sukhnah) and Suleiman Al-Shawah (head of IS internal security).”