IS chief killed, says Syrian Observatory

IS chief killed, says Syrian ObservatoryUpdated on : 12-07-2017 09:56 AM
Islamic State group chief Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi was reported dead on Tuesday, a day after Iraq declared it had driven the jihadists from their one-time biggest stronghold of Mosul.

The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, a longtime monitor of the country's conflict, said it had information from top IS leaders confirming Baghdadi's death.

His death would mark another devastating blow to the jihadist group after its loss of Mosul, which Iraqi Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi said Monday had been retaken from IS after a gruelling months-long campaign.

The cost of victory has been enormous: much of Mosul in ruins, thousands dead and wounded and nearly half the city's population forced from their homes.

"Top tier commanders from IS who are present in Deir Ezzor province have confirmed the death of Abu Bakr al- Baghdadi, emir of the Islamic State group, to the Observatory," the monitoring group's director Rami Abdel Rahman said.

Deir Ezzor province in eastern Syria remains largely under IS control even as the group is losing territory elsewhere in the country and in neighbouring Iraq.

There have been persistent rumours of Baghdadi's death in recent months, and Russia's army said in mid-June that it was seeking to verify whether it had killed the IS chief in a May air strike in Syria.

(IK)

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