ISIS leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi is dead, the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights (SOHR) reported on Tuesday. Rami Abdulrahman, the director of the respected monitoring group, told Reuters, “[We have] confirmed information from leaders, including one of the first rank, in the Islamic State in the eastern countryside of Deir al-Zor.” The report by SOHR, which has a credible track record of reporting on the Syrian civil war, did not specify when the ISIS leader was killed but did say they received the information from the “second in line” of ISIS’s leadership in the eastern Syrian province.
Reports of al-Baghdadi’s death have circulated numerous times without confirmation, most recently in June when Russia’s Defense Ministry said one of their airstrikes may have hit a gathering of Islamic State commanders on the outskirts of the Syrian city of Raqqa. “According to the information which is now being checked via various channels, Islamic State leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, who was eliminated by the air strike, was also present at the meeting,” the defense minister said at the time.
This could be the latest blow to the jihadist group who lost control of Iraqi city of Mosul this week. Mosul was finally liberated from the clutches of the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant which had captured the city in June 2014.