Russia claims it has killed IS leader al-Baghdadi
BEIRUT (AP) -- The Latest on Russian claim of killing Islamic State group leader (all times local):
Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov says he can’t definitively confirm the death of the Islamic State group’s leader in a Russian airstrike.
The Russian Defense Ministry claimed earlier Friday that IS leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi was killed in a Russian strike in late May, adding that the information about his death was still “being verified through various channels.”
Asked about the claim at a news conference in Moscow, Lavrov said: “I don’t have a 100-percent confirmation of the information.”
He added on a cautious note that if al-Baghdadi’s death is confirmed, its importance mustn’t be overestimated. Lavrov said that “past examples of similar actions to strike the leadership of terrorist groups were presented with much enthusiasm and pomp, but the experience shows that those structures later regained their capability.”
The spokesman for the U.S.-led anti-Islamic State coalition says he cannot confirm reports that IS leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi has been killed.
The statement comes after Russia claimed it killed al-Baghdadi in an airstrike that targeted a meeting of IS leaders outside the IS de facto capital in Syria.
The Russian Defense Ministry said al-Baghdadi was killed in a Russian strike in late May along with other senior group commanders.
In an e-mailed statement, Army Col. Ryan Dillon said Friday: "We cannot confirm these reports at this time."
The Russian military claims it has killed the leader of the Islamic State group in an airstrike.
The ministry said Friday that Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi was killed in a Russian strike in late May along with other senior group commanders.
It said the air raid on May 28 that targeted an IS meeting held on the southern outskirts of Raqqa in Syria also killed about 30 mid-level militant leaders and about 300 other fighters.
The ministry said the strike came as IS leaders gathered to discuss the group's withdrawal from Raqqa, the group's de facto capital.