A man purported to be the reclusive leader of the militant Islamic State Abu Bakr al Baghdadi made a rare public appearance at a mosque in the center of Mosul, on July 5, 2014..
(photo credit: REUTERS)
Syria's state television channel announced Sunday morning that ISIS leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi was killed in an artillery strike on the group's headquarters in Syria. According to the report, the word's most wanted terrorist was killed on Saturday, though no confirmation has been issued by the group itself.
At least seven civilians were reported to have been killed in Saturday’s air strikes, according to independent Syrian news outlets.
News of Baghdadi's demise was met with widespread skepticism since similar reports have been proven false in the past. On at least two occasions over the last year, the reclusive leader was reportedly killed, only to show a sign of life in the form of a video or voice recording.
According to AFP, citing official Iraqi documents, Baghdadi was born in Samarra in 1971. He later joined the Iraqi insurgency that arose after America's invasion of the Middle Eastern country in 2003. Late last year, the US announced it had increased its reward offer for Baghdadi's head to $25 million.
ISIS leader Baghdadi to Jews: Palestine will be your graveyard
The report of Baghdadi's death comes amid a military push by US-backed Syrian forces into the city, which is the jihadist group's last remaining stronghold in the region. The Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF), a group of Kurdish and Arab militias supported by a US-led coalition, began to attack Raqqa on Tuesday after a months-long campaign to cut it off.
The US-led coalition estimates that Raqqa, which Islamic State seized from Syrian rebels in 2014 during their lightning advance in Syria and Iraq, is defended by 3,000 to 4,000 jihadists.
It has been a hub both for Islamic State's military leaders and its bureaucrats, and has been used to plot attacks in countries around the world.
Join Jerusalem Post Premium Plus now for just $5 and upgrade your experience with an ads-free website and exclusive content. Click here>>