CNN Senior Intl. Correspondent Casts Doubt on Reports Airstrike Killed ISIS Leader


CNN Senior International Correspondent Arwa Damon, who has been reporting on the fight against ISIS from the Middle East, said reports that a Russian airstrike killed Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi should be treated with skepticism.

Russia’s defense ministry released a statement Thursday night claiming they had killed al-Baghdadi, the longtime head of ISIS, in an airstrike on a military council meeting held by the militant group near Raqqa, Syria.

The airstrike reportedly killed dozens more mid-level and senior commanders, as well as 300 ground fighters.

But Arwa Damon cautioned on Friday to take the reports of al-Baghdadi’s death with a “whole lot of skepticism.”

She noted that the Russians have said they are still investigating whether al-Baghdadi was actually at the meeting they bombed.

“Given how savvy of an organization ISIS is and how elusive al-Baghdadi himself has been,” she continued, noting he is “basically referred to as something of a ghost,” it seems “hard to fathom a scenario where he would actually be attending such a high-profile meeting with so many other of the top leadership.”

“It just doesn’t really make that much sense,” Damon said.

Damon also pointed out that the location of the meeting, near action-heavy Raqqa, raises questions as to why al-Baghdadi would have been there.

She added that “al-Baghdadi has been reported to have been at least killed or wounded in the past, and in none of those instances has that been confirmed.”

“And just to sum it all up, we also have to remember that even when the leadership of these organizations are taken out, that does not mean an end to the entities themselves.”

[image via screengrab]

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Aidan McLaughlin is the Editor of Mediaite. Send tips via email: Ask for Signal. Follow him on Twitter: @aidnmclaughlin