The Ministry of Defence in Moscow has expressed doubts about US President Donald Trump’s announcement on Sunday that Daesh leader Abu Bakr Al-Baghdadi was killed in a “daring night-time raid” in north-west Syria. Trump went on to thank Russia, Turkey, Syria and Iraq for their support.
“We are unaware of any alleged assistance to US aircraft using the airspace of the Idlib de-escalation zone during this operation,” Major-General Igor Konashenkov told state-run RIA news agency.
Konashenkov referred to the previous claims that Al-Baghdadi had been killed. He described the latest raid as “yet another ‘elimination’ of the former Daesh leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi in the Turkish-controlled part of the Idlib de-escalation zone.”
Despite Trump claiming that the head of Daesh had met his end “crying and screaming”, Moscow said that there was no credible evidence to prove that such a raid took place, especially as there hasn’t been any US or international coalition air strikes in Idlib province recently, where the raid is said to have taken place.
The statement from the Russian Ministry of Defence also cast doubt on the claim that Al-Baghdadi was actually in Idlib. The town is held by Hayat Tahrir Al-Sham, formerly known as the Nusra Front, an Al-Qaeda branch in Syria which was a fierce rival of Al-Baghdadi’s Daesh.
Russia believes that the announcements by Trump are simply propaganda. “Trump has elections coming up next year,” explained Russian state TV correspondent in the US Denis Davydov to Rossiya-24. “This announcement about Al-Baghdadi’s liquidation will add some points for the [US] Commander-in-Chief.”