- The Washington Times - Tuesday, July 11, 2017

The London-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said Tuesday that Islamic State officials have confirmed the death of terrorist leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi.

“Top tier commanders from IS who are present in Deir Ezzor province have confirmed the death of Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, emir of the Islamic State group, to the Observatory,” Rami Abdel Rahman, director of the monitoring group, told AFP.

Russia’s Defence Ministry said in June that it might have killed Baghdadi in a May airstrike on a gathering of Islamic State commanders outside Raqqa, Syria, but U.S. and Iraqi officials remained skeptical, saying they had no evidence to corroborate the claim.

The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights reportedly has a solid track record of accurate reporting on the region. The group’s director told CBS News that the Islamic State sources could not confirm when Baghdadi died, or whether he died as the result of an attack.

A spokesman for the U.S.-led coalition against the Islamic State told CBS that, “we cannot confirm this report, but hope it is true. We strongly advise ISIS to implement a strong line of succession, it will be needed.”

President Trump appeared to react to the news in a Tuesday morning tweet:

It came one day after the U.S. coalition and Iraqi government declared victory over Islamic State forces in Mosul following nine months of fighting.

• Jessica Chasmar can be reached at jchasmar@washingtontimes.com.

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