Is ISIS Leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi Dead?

REUTERS/Reuters TVThe image shows ISIS leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi.

While it has yet to be confirmed, news is spreading about the possibility of ISIS leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi being one of the casualties of a Russian airstrike last month.

According to reports, the Russian Defense Ministry said that they are currently investigating the claims that Baghdadi has been killed in one of the airstrikes in Syria on May 28.

Minutes after midnight of the said date, an airstrike was done near Raqqa in Syria, where Russia believes a gathering of around 30 ISIS leaders and 300 militants took place. Su-24 and Su-25 aircrafts were reportedly used in the attack.

Baghdadi is believed to be present at the said gathering and the ministry reportedly has a reason to believe that he died in the airstrike.

However, Sergei Lavrov, the Russian foreign minister, said that as of now, there is no certainty if the terrorist group leader is still alive, as reported by The Guardian. He clarified, "So far, I have no 100 percent confirmation of the information that Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi has been killed."

Apart from conflicting statements from Russia, CNN senior international correspondent Clarissa Ward also believes that it is unlikely for the militant group to hold a large gathering during these times. 

"They do not meet in big groupings like that because of drone strikes, because they are constantly being bombarded," she said. According to Ward, if Baghdadi was indeed killed last month, it would have given ISIS a big blow. However, due to the recent events, such as the attacks in London, Baghdad, Tehran, and Kabul, it looks like it is still "business as usual" for the terrorist group.

This is not the first time that Baghdadi has been reported dead, however. In June last year, there were claims that he had been killed during a U.S. air strike, but it turned out to be a hoax concocted by an ISIS-controlled news agency.