The New York Times reports: Russia’s military said on Friday that it was looking into whether one of its airstrikes in the Syrian desert had killed Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, the self-declared caliph of the Islamic State.
In a statement, the Defense Ministry said that the Russian Air Force struck a meeting of Islamic State leaders on May 28 outside Raqqa, Syria, the group’s de facto capital, possibly killing Mr. Baghdadi. [Continue reading…]
Baghdadi wouldn't have been in Raqqa as recently as last month. And Russia knows that. https://t.co/NaON8zopSz
— Hassan Hassan (@hxhassan) June 16, 2017
Charles Lister writes: Russia’s claim to have killed ISIS leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi in an airstrike in Raqqa on May 28 should be taken with a heavy grain of salt. At the time in question, the U.S.-led Syrian Democratic Forces (S.D.F.) were only days away from launching their final assault on the city and there’s no logical reason imaginable why Baghdadi would have risked staying in a surrounded, sitting target. [Continue reading…]
So why exactly would the Russians put out such a claim now, knowing that at least among ISIS experts it would instantly get shot down?
For one thing, they could rely on the fact that the stenographers at the New York Times and elsewhere would give the claim some credibility merely by placing it in headlines — headlines which would parrot the claim while burying the doubts in the body of the reporting.
It could be pure coincidence, but the fact that this claim comes as the Senate raises the specter of new sanctions, might be of more relevance than events in Syria.
The idea that Russia just killed Baghdadi would certainly play well with those Trump supporters who are already convinced that the U.S. has been swept up in anti-Russia hysteria — what more compelling ‘evidence’ could there be that Trump and Putin are on the same side?
So far, @realDonaldTrump has given no indication about whether he thinks this purported strike on ISIS is “Great news!” or “Fake News” — his preoccupation remains the “Witch Hunt.”