by Arthur Foxake, 16 June 2017
The Russian Defence Department has claimed it has information, which is being verified through various channels, that the leader of Islamic State’s leader Abu-Bakr al-Baghdadi has been killed in a Russian airstrike on Raqqa, the last ISIS stronghold in Syria on May 28.
The strikes targeted a reported meeting of high-ranking Islamic State leaders where al- Baghdadi was due to be present, the Russians say their intelligence services had discovered. The meeting had been called to plan the escape of militants from Raqqa through routes known as through the “southern corridor.”
Sources in Syria report that 30 field commanders and up to 300 militants were killed in the strike, among them the Emir of Raqqa Abu al-Haji al-Masri, Emir Ibrahim al-Naef al-Hajj who controlled the territortweey be the city of Raqqa and the settlement of es-Sohne and the Islamic State’s head of security Suleiman al-Sawah. Any news coming out of Syria should be treated with extreme scepticism of course.
Al-Baghdadi had not identified a successor but two of the aides who have emerged as his likely successors are Iyad al-Obaidi, his defense minister, and Ayad al-Jumaili, in charge of security. The latter had already reportedly been killed in an airstrike in April in al-Qaim region on Iraq’s border with Syria, but ISIS leaders seem to get killed every few weeks only to re - emerge a few weeks later.
The most likely successor of al-Baghdadi would be al-Obaidi. Both al-Jumaili and al-Obaidi had previously served as security officers in Iraq’s Baathist army under Saddam Hussein, and al-Obaidi is known to be the de facto deputy of al-Baghdadi.
The US State Department and the Pentagon have not confirmed either the death of al-Jumaili nor al-Baghdadi. US mainstream media is bending over backwards to prove that al-Baghdadi is still alive and has been hiding in the desert between Raqqa and Mosul with only two of his bodyguards in a pickup truck, but if US mainstream media, a wholly owned subsidiary of the military / industrial complex says he is alive that's probably the strongest evidence that he is dead.
We must not forget it was US mainstream media that gave saturation coverage to the killing by Navy Seals of Osama bin Laden in 2011 when in fact OBL had been dead since 2005 at the latest. This was confirmed by Pakistani Prime minister Benazir Bhutto in 2007. Speaking to UK TV presenter David Frost, Bhutto states unequivocally that bin Laden died in 2001 as the linked YouTube clip of the interview shows. A few weeks later Bhutto was assassinated.
It is not in Washington’s interests to confirm the deaths of the Islamic State’s top leaders even if it has received credible reports of their demise emerge, because US troops and the allied local militias have mounted offensives against the Islamic State’s strongholds of Mosul in Iraq and Raqqa which have reported caused colossal loss of human lives. It would be grossly embarrassing and destroy what's left of US military credibility to admit that once more Russia has succeeded when American has screwed up.
Conventional munitions and white phosphorous are allegedly being used in large quantities against the residents of both cities, and public opinion is swiftly turning against the ill-conceived intervention in Iraq and the illegitimate US interference in Syria on the pretext of waging a war against terrorism.
According to the Russian and regional media, the US Air Force has been showering Raqqa with white phosphorous, and at the same time, the US has provided a safe exit to jihadists to escape through the “southern corridor” to the oil-rich governorate of Deir al-Zor which has been contested between the Syrian government troops, the Islamic State and the US-backed so-called “moderate” militants (the head amputating, human organ noshing moderates that is.)
Thus it appears that rather than a genuine war to eliminate terrorism, the US-led war in Syria is turning out to be a scramble for territory in order to Balkanize Syria between the Kurds in the north, the Syrian government in the west and the US-backed Sunni Arab militants in the energy-rich east. It does seem however that the Trump administration has abandoned Obama's priority, which was always to oust the Assad regime rather than defeat the terrorists.
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