"The Americans have buried al-Baghdadi more than once. It is yet to be proved what has really happened. Anyway, as practice shows, extermination of a leader does not mean extermination of the corresponding organization. It is seen on the example of Al Qaeda (outlawed in Russia) and other terrorist groups," Vladimir Fitin, head of the Near and Middle East Center at the Russian Institute for Strategic Studies (RISS), a think tank, told TASS.
The expert pointed to the act that the possible death of the Islamic State leader concurs with the launch of a "serious" election campaign in the United States. "[US President Donald] Trump needs to demonstrate his leader’s capacities, to show himself as a winner who has managed to find a way to exterminate the chief of the hate-crazed group," he said.
Apart from that, Washington wants to demonstrate that it is a key player in Syria, he stressed. Despite Trump’s statements on the withdrawal of US troops from Syria, they will stay in that country to control a number of oil fields and bar access to them for the Syrian government.
US President Donald Trump said earlier in the day that al-Baghdadi had died in an overnight raid led by U.S. forces in Syria’s Idlib governorate. According to Trump, al-Baghdadi had killed himself and three of his children by detonating a suicide vest while fleeing into a dead-end tunnel. He said that many of al-Baghdadi’s companions and militants had been killed as well. There were no casualties among the US military.
Apart from that, Trump thanked Russia, Iraq, Syria and Turkey for their assistance. He claimed that Russia had opened airspace over Syria for US aircraft.
Meanwhile, Russia’s defense ministry said on Sunday it doubted the US operation had ever taken place as it had no reliable proof that al-Baghdadi was dead. Moreover, it said it had not opened airspace over Syria for US air forces.