Updated at 7:20 a.m. ET
Russia’s Ministry of Defense says it is investigating whether Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, the ISIS leader, was killed in a Russian airstrike near Raqqa, Syria, on May 28.
Baghdadi has been reported dead several times previously, but Russia has rarely made such claims since its military involvement in the Syrian civil war began in September 2015. The report, which was published in Sputnik, the state-run news service, would be a devastating blow to the group that has steadily lost ground in Iraq and Syria in recent years—pushed back by U.S.-led airstrikes, as well as ground offensives by Iraqi, Kurdish, Shia, and other forces in the region. Russia’s involvement in Syria has also hurt the group, which still provides potent reminders of its ability to carry out deadly attacks in Western cities.
“According to information that is checked through various channels, IS leader Ibrahim Abu-Bakr al-Baghdadi, who was killed as a result of the strike, was also present at the meeting,” the Russian Defense Ministry said. “As a result of the Su-35 and Su-34 airstrikes, high-ranking commanders of the terrorist groups who were part of the so-called IS military council, as well as about 30 mid-level field commanders and up to 300 militants of their personal security, have been killed.”