Syrian rights monitor says ISIS chief Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi is dead
The head of the Islamic State group Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi was pronounced dead on Tuesday, a day after Iraq said that he had brought his only unique fortress to Mosul.
The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, a long-time instructor on the conflict in the country, said it had no information from leading ISIS leaders who confirm Baghdadi’s death.
The report could not be verified independently and Baghdadi has repeatedly reported repeatedly. The Pentagon said it had no information to corroborate reports of its death.
However, if confirmed, his death would mark another devastating blow for the jihadist group after the loss of Mosul, said that Iraqi Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi on Monday had been seized by ISIS after a grueling campaign several months.
“The high level of command is present in the province of Deir Ezzor confirmed the death of Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, emir of the Islamic State group, the Observatory,” AFP the monitoring group director Rami Abdel Rahman said.
“We learned today, but we do not know when or how he died.”
Deir Ezzor, in eastern Syria, remains largely under ISIS control, even if the group loses territory elsewhere in the country and in neighboring Iraq.
Abdel Rahman said that Baghdadi “was present in the eastern regions of the province of Deir Ezzor” in recent months, but it was unclear whether he had died in the region or elsewhere.
There was no official confirmation or denial of new social media platforms used by ISIS.
The US-led coalition said it could not verify the Observatory’s information.
“We can not confirm the report, but I hope that’s true,” said coalition spokesman Colonel Ryan Dillon.
“ISIS is highly recommended to establish a strong succession, it will be necessary,” he added, using a different acronym for ISIS.
There have been lingering rumors of Baghdadi’s death in recent months, and said the Russian army in mid-June wanted to check if it had killed the ISIS leader in a May Syrian airstrike.
The US-led coalition fought the jihadist group in Syria and Iraq said at the time that it could not confirm whether the strike had killed Baghdadi Russia.
With a $ 25 million bonus on the head, Baghdadi has maintained a low profile, and is used to travel regularly throughout the ISIS territory in the region riding between Iraq and Syria.
The 46-year-old ISIS chief of Iraq has not been seen in public since making his public appearance only to be known as the “caliph” in 2014 at the Al-Nuri Grand Mosque in Mosul.
ISIS destroyed the highly symbolic site before Iraqi forces can not push the jihadist group into Mosul.
Iraqi forces launched their campaign in October to resume Mosul, who was captured by the jihadists in the offensive in mid-2014 that saw them seize control of large parts of Iraq and Syria.
Abadi said on Monday in Mosul that the campaign had ended with the ISIS defeat in the city, stemming “a victory over darkness, a victory over brutality and terrorism.”
The cost of victory was enormous: over Mosul in ruins, thousands dead and wounded and almost half the city’s population were forced to flee their homes.
In the ancient city of Mosul, where buildings are in ruins and burned cars and other debris stifles the streets, security forces are still searching for the remaining ISIS fighters.
“What we’re doing today is simply trying to get into the area and generate dormant cells,” Lieutenant-General Sami al-Personal Aridhi, a commander of the Counter-Terrorism Service (CTS) in Iraq, said Tuesday.
“There are groups that hide in the shelters,” but they surrender or are killed, Aridhi said.
Since the operation in Mosul began in October, 920,000 people have fled their homes, only a fraction has returned, according to the UN.
Amnesty International Group today accused the rights of Iraqi forces and the United States-led coalition of civilian exposure to “incessant and illegal attacks” in western Mosul.
“Pro-government forces launched raids of indiscriminate attacks or disproportionate use of improper explosive weapons for a densely populated urban area such as,” said Amnesty.