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Experts Skeptical About Reports of Death of al-Baghdadi

  • VOA Staff

FILE - This image taken from a militant website July 5, 2014, purports to show the leader of the Islamic State group, Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi.

U.S. military officials say they have no information to confirm or deny a report Islamic State leader Abu Bakr al-Baghadi has been killed in an airstrike.

Independent experts are expressing skepticism about the fast-spreading claims of the terrorist leader’s death, which reportedly was broadcast late Saturday on Syrian state television. However the British Broadcasting Corp's monitoring service said Sunday it had detected no such report on either state television or Syria's state news agency, SANA.

FILE - This undated frame grab from video posted online May 29, 2017, by the Aamaq News Agency, a media arm of the Islamic State group, shows people inspecting damage from airstrikes and artillery shelling in the northern Syrian city of Raqqa.
FILE - This undated frame grab from video posted online May 29, 2017, by the Aamaq News Agency, a media arm of the Islamic State group, shows people inspecting damage from airstrikes and artillery shelling in the northern Syrian city of Raqqa.

A spokesperson on weekend duty at the U.S. Defense Department told VOA she had received queries about the reports but had no information to confirm or deny it.

Air raids on Raqqa

The British-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights has confirmed intense air raids on Raqqa, where anti-IS forces began a major offensive last week. Reports from the region say the Amaq news agency, which is publicly identified with Islamic State, showed video of a body purported to be that of al-Baghdadi.

However, the British newspaper The Scotsman cited a tweet by terrorism analyst Michael Smith saying he has viewed the video and does not believe the body to be that of al-Baghdadi.

Multiple previous claims that the IS leader had been killed have proven to be false.

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