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There are indications that the leader of the Islamic State militant group (ISIS) Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi is dead, the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights (SOHR) told Newsweek on Tuesday.
The monitoring group, which relies on an extensive network of sources in Syria, said it had “confirmed information” that Baghdadi had been killed. “We have confirmed [his death] from information from one of our activists in Deir Ezzor, they confirmed that Baghdadi has died,” Rami Abdelrahman, director of SOHR, tells Newsweek by phone.
He could not confirm how the ISIS leader had been killed but said that it happened near the Iraqi border. “The last three months he was living in east Deir Ezzor,” he said.
The claim could not be independently verified by Newsweek.
In May, the Russian Defense Ministry said it may have killed Baghdadi in an airstrike near the eastern Syrian city of Raqqa. SOHR said at the time that the Russian claim was fabricated, and the U.S.-led coalition said it could not confirm his death, citing a lack of evidence.
Baghdadi’s death and severe injuries have reported many times since he declared the Islamic State’s caliphate from the pulpit of Mosul’s Al-Nuri Mosque in July 2014. Iraqi officials believed he had fled Mosul and was hiding in the ISIS-controlled areas straddling the Iraqi-Syrian border.