12:33 GMT +321 January 2020
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    US Secretary of Defense James Mattis said on Friday he could neither confirm nor deny reports that Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, leader of Daesh terror group, is dead.

    WASHINGTON (Sputnik) — US Secretary of Defense James Mattis said on Friday he could neither confirm nor deny reports that Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, leader of Daesh terror group (banned in Russia), is dead.

    "I honestly don't know right now, and we don't speculate in the US military," Mattis told reporters. "If we knew, we would tell you. Right now, I can't confirm or deny it."

    On June 16, the Russian Defense Ministry said al-Baghdadi was likely eliminated as a result of a Russian Aerospace Forces strike on a command post in the southern suburb of the city of Raqqa in late May. The Russian Defense Ministry noted that it was in the process of confirming the information through various channels.

    Al-Baghdadi appeared in the media for the first time in 2014 when he declared the creation of a caliphate in the Middle East. Since, the media outlets have reported several times that Daesh leader had been killed, but the information was never confirmed.

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    Tags:
    death confirmation, Daesh, James Mattis, Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, Syria, United States
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