January 20, 2018

Syrian Observatory for Human Rights says terror leader is dead

Friday, July 14, 2017

Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi ‘killed,’ says report

Venezuelan opposition leader Leopoldo López, who was been granted house arrest after more than three years in jail, salutes supporters from his home in Caracas this week.

BEIRUT — The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said this week it had “confirmed information” that Islamic State leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi had been killed.

The report came just days after the Iraqi Army recaptured the last sectors of the northern Iraqi city of Mosul, which Baghdadi’s forces overran almost exactly three years ago.

Russia’s Defence Ministry said in June that it might have killed Baghdadi when one of its airstrikes hit a gathering of Islamic State commanders on the outskirts of the Syrian city of Raqqa. Washington said it could not corroborate the death and Western and Iraqi officials have been sceptical. “(We have) confirmed information from leaders, including one of the first rank who is Syrian, in the Islamic State in the eastern countryside of Deir al-Zor,” said Rami Abdulrahman, the director of the Britain-based war monitoring group.

Baghdadi was born Ibrahim Awad al-Samarrai in 1971 in Tobchi, a poor area near Samarra, north of the capital Baghdad. His family included preachers from the ultra-conservative Salafi school of Sunni Islam, which sees many other branches of the faith as heretical and other religions as anathema. He joined the Salafi jihadist insurgency in 2003, the year of the invasion of Iraq, and was captured by the US. They released him about a year later. It was not until July 4, 2014, that he seized the world’s attention, climbing the pulpit of Mosul’s mediaval al-Nuri mosque in black clerical garb during Friday prayers to announce the restoration of the caliphate.

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