Russia suggests al-Baghdadi might still be alive, mocks US over 'umpteenth death' of ISIS leader
Hours after US President Donald Trump announced that ISIS leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi had been killed in a raid over the weekend, Russia mocked the claims saying it was the "umpteenth" report on the extremist leader's death. The country defence ministry also suggested the terrorist may still be alive saying it "does not have reliable information about the actions of the US army."
Ever since his rise to prominence as ISIS' leader in 2014, al-Baghdadi has been reported dead several times. Furthermore, it was Russia that most recently claimed to have killed him in an airstrike in Raqqa that took place in June 2017, CNN reports.
"The ministry does not have reliable information about the actions of the US army in the Idlib 'de-escalation' zone... concerning the umpteenth "death" of Baghdadi," said Igor Konashenkov, spokesman for Russia's Defence Ministry.
Russia, at the time of its own military raid, had claimed they killed at least 300 ISIS fighters including 30 mid-level lieutenants and al-Baghdadi himself.
However, the US had shot down the claims at the time saying there was no concrete evidence of his death.
Reports of the Russian raid had been greatly exaggerated, per observer groups Raqqa is Being Slaughtered Silently and the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, who said the death toll was lesser than 20 people.
In April 2019, ISIS released a video showing al-Baghdadi alive and well, sitting cross-legged on the floor and urging supporters to renew their faith.
This time around, President Trump confirmed the terrorist's demise saying he blew himself up using a suicide vest along with three of his children after US forces raided his compound overnight Saturday.
The US leader called it a major victory over the jihadist group and described in great detail how al-Baghdadi died "whimpering and crying" during the raid.
Trump said the terror leader was positively identified by DNA 15 minutes after he blew himself up.
The president called al-Baghdadi a "sick and depraved man" and that "now he's gone."
According to him, the capture or killing of the ISIS leader had been one of the top national security priorities of his administration.
That said, the death of al-Baghdadi is a massive blow to the Islamic State, which has not declared a successor and has been in disarray for a while.
The commander-in-chief said U.S. forces suffered no personnel losses and extended his gratitude to Russia, Turkey, Syria, and Iraq for their support in the covert operation.
"The thug who tried so hard to intimidate others spent his last moments in utter fear, panic, and dread, terrified of the American forces coming down on him," Trump said.
"He reached the end of the tunnel as our dogs chased him down. He ignited his vest, killing himself and his three children. His body was mutilated by the blasts. The tunnel had caved on him," he added. "He died... whimpering and crying and screaming."