Russian forces loyal to dictator Bashar al-Assad killed the son of Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, the chief of the crumbling Islamic State, while he was hiding in a cave in Syria, Iraqi intelligence agents claimed Thursday.
This week’s death of Hudhayfah al-Badri potentially deprives Baghdadi of an heir.
Although they do not agree on the circumstances surrounding his death, Iraqi intelligence and Islamic State have confirmed that Hudhayfah al-Badri, Baghdadi’s son, is indeed dead.
“The U.S. military said it had seen the reports of al-Badri’s death but declined any confirmation,” Voice of America conceded on Wednesday.
Islamic State’s feeble presence in Iraq and Syria, once home to its now annihilated so-called caliphate, has been squeezed into ever-shrinking pockets of territory mainly located along the border dividing the two countries. Islamic State also maintains a footprint near Syria’s border with Jordan and Israel-occupied Golan Heights.
While Iraqi intelligence asserts that Russian troops took out Baghdadi’s son “in a missile attack” on Monday targeting “a Syrian cave in which he was hiding,” ISIS’ propaganda outlets claim Hudhayfah al-Badri died carrying out a suicide bombing against Russian and Iranian-backed Assad forces in the western Syrian city of Homs, the Agence France Presse (AFP) news agency reported on Wednesday.
“Hudhayfah al-Badri [May Allah Accept Him], the son of the Caliph [May Allah Safeguard him], was killed in an inghimasi [suicide] operation against the Nusayriyyah and the Russians at the thermal power station in Homs Willayah,” ISIS’ Nashir News said in a statement featuring a photo of a young man holding an assault rifle, VOA added.
ISIS’ Amaq propaganda arm also alleged Tuesday that Badri was killed in an “operation against the Nussayriyyah and the Russians at the thermal power station in Homs,” AFP noted.
“Nussayriyyah” reportedly refers to the Shiite Alawite religious minority sect that Assad belongs to.
The U.K.-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, which uses a network of ground sources to monitor the war in Syria, has dismissed Islamic State’s claims that Baghdadi’s son died while carrying out a suicide attack as false, stressing that the group is collapsing at the hands of the U.S.-led coalition, the Russian and Iranian-backed Assad forces, and other local fighters.
Citing Iraq’s Falcon’s intelligence cell, AFP reported Wednesday that “Russian forces on Monday fired three missiles at a cave in Homs that held 30 ‘terrorist leaders’ and several of Badri’s bodyguards.”
Iraqi intelligence asserts that the Russians killed 11 Islamic State-linked jihadis in the attack, including Baghdadi’s son.
“Badri wasn’t even a fighter … he was an icon that was moved from one place to another as a form of psychological propaganda for the rest of the organization,” the Falcons declared on Wednesday, downplaying the importance of Badri.
In announcing the death of Baghdadi’s son, the Observatory noted that ISIS is facing a “significant decline” in strength, adding that the group has been degraded to “a refuge seeker within scattered enclaves it controls” that together amount to an area the size of three percent of Syria (2,155 square miles).
In May, Breitbart News learned from the Pentagon that under U.S. President Donald Trump’s watch, Islamic State has been reduced to a “small” presence in Syria, primarily along the Iraqi border.
U.S. and Iraqi officials insist that ISIS remains a threat despite the significant losses it has suffered in recent months, primarily the destruction of its territorial caliphate.
After declaring the establishment of a so-called “caliphate” in Syria and Iraq back in 2014, ISIS managed to conquer swaths of territory across both countries.
“The group’s leader Baghdadi, who has been pronounced dead on several occasions, remains alive in Syrian territory by the Iraqi border, an Iraqi intelligence official said in May,” AFP acknowledged.
“Originally from Iraq, Baghdadi has been dubbed the “most wanted man on the planet” and the United States is offering a $25 million reward for his capture,” it added.
The last voice recording attributed to Baghdadi is from September of last year, Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty (RFE/RL) reported Wednesday, noting that the ISIS chief urged his followers to “resist” their enemies.
In what was then dubbed a “farewell speech” by Baghdadi in March 2017, the terrorist leader called on his Iraqi fighters to “flee and hide” or “ blow themselves up when surrounded” by their enemies.