Local media sources affiliated to the Syrian dissidents expressed suspicion that the person killed in a raid in Idlib was ISIL ringleader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, as claimed by US President Donald Trump.
Radio Mohafezat Idlib, a telegram channel, wrote on Sunday that the house that the US claims al-Baghdadi resided in with his family belonged to Commander of Horras al-Din group and he (and not Baghdadi) was killed in the attack along with his wife and 5 children.
Horras al-Din is a terrorist group close to al-Qaeda which is active in Northern Syria.
Also, another telegram channel affiliated to the militants named Amjad al-Akhbariyeh Channel quoted an informed source as saying that the house which was attacked in Barisha region in Idlib belonged to Abu Mohammed al-Halabi, non de guerre Abu al-Bara, one of the commanders of Horras al-Din.
The Russian military on Sunday questioned the official US account of the military raid that killed al-Baghdadi, saying it was not aware of any US military operations in the region.
In a statement, Russian Defense Ministry spokesman Major General Igor Konashenkov said the Russian military “does not have reliable information” on a US Special Operations raid in Syria’s Idlib province, adding, “The increasing number of direct participants and countries that allegedly took part in this ‘operation,’ each one giving completely contradictory details, raises legitimate questions and doubts about its existence and especially the level of its success.”
In a statement that followed the raid, Trump thanked Russia for its assistance, as well as Turkey, Syria, Iraq and the Syrian Kurds.
Russia maintains a major base in Syria at Lattakia. Konashenkov said, however, that the Russian military had observed no strikes by US aircraft in the region.
“Firstly, on Saturday and in recent days no air strikes were made on the Idlib de-escalation zone by US aircraft or the so-called ‘international coalition’ were recorded,” Konashenkov said. “Secondly, we are not aware of any alleged assistance to the passage of American aviation into the airspace of the Idlib de-escalation zone during this operation.”
Konashenkov argued in his statement that Syrian government backed by Russian air power had defeated ISIL, saying that al-Baghdadi’s death “has absolutely no operational significance on the situation in Syria or on the actions of the remaining terrorists in Idlib”.
Baghdadi died “whimpering and crying” in a raid by US special forces in Northwest Syria, President Donald Trump claimed on Sunday.
Baghdadi killed himself during the raid by detonating a suicide vest after fleeing into a dead-end tunnel, Trump said in a televised address from the White House.
He was positively identified by DNA tests 15 minutes after he died, he said. “He was a sick and depraved man and now he’s gone.”