Russia Claims It Has Confirmed Death of ISIS Leader Al-Baghdadi

Russia's Defense Ministry made the same claim last week, but Washington would not corroborate the death and Iraqi officials were skeptical

File photo: A man purported to be Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi at a mosque in Mosul, according to a video recording posted on the Internet on July 5, 2014.

The Russian foreign minister said that they can confirm with a high degree of certainty that ISIS leader al-Baghdadi is dead, according to a Reuters report Thursday.

Russian Deputy Foreign Minister Oleg Syromolotov told Sputnik, a Russian news outlet, that it is "highly likely" that ISIS leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi was killed in Russian airstrikes last month.

"According to the Russian Defense Ministry, it is highly likely that Daesh leader al-Baghdadi was eliminated as a result of a Russian Aerospace Forces strike on the terrorists' command post in the southern suburb of the city of Raqqa in late May this year," Syromolotov said.

Russia's Defense Ministry made the same claim last week, after checking information that the May airstrike near the Syrian city of Raqqa may have killed al-Baghdadi. Washington said it could not corroborate the death and Western and Iraqi officials were skeptical.

The airstrike was launched after the Russian forces in Syria received intelligence that a meeting of ISIS leaders was being planned, the ministry said in a statement posted on its Facebook page. 

"On May 28, after drones were used to confirm the information on the place and time of the meeting of ISIS leaders, between 00:35 and 00:45, Russian air forces launched a strike on the command point where the leaders were located," the statement said. 

"According to the information which is now being checked via various channels, also present at the meeting was ISIS leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, who was eliminated as a result of the strike," the ministry said.