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War Monitor Reports That ISIS Leader Has Died (Photos)

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ISIS has reportedly admitted that its leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi has died, according to a war monitor organization.

The terror group was reported by the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights to have confirmed that its 45-year-old leader was killed during an air strike in Nineveh, Iraq, according to Daily Mail.

"Top-tier commanders from IS who are present in Deir Ezzor province have confirmed the death of Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, emir of the Islamic State group, to the Observatory," said the director of the organization, Rami Abdel Rahman. "We learned of it today but we do not know when he died or how."

President Donald Trump's deputy assistant, Sebastian Gorka, said that the administration is still "verifying" intelligence related to the ISIS leader's death, and that they "take any report of this nature with a large dose of salt."

"We will look at the intelligence available ... and we will give a statement when we have the requisite facts," said Gorka.

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"We cannot confirm this report, but hope it is true," said Coalition spokesman Col. Ryan Dillon. "We strongly advise ISIS to implement a strong line of succession, it will be needed."

ISIS-affiliated websites and social media have not yet made a statement on al-Baghdadi's death.

Al-Baghdadi is reported to have been in hiding near the border of Iraq and Syria, according to the Independent. There have been numerous rumors about his death following his last public appearance in Mosul in 2014.

Russia said that it killed al-Baghdadi in an air strike in June, but did not provide proof of his death, leaving U.S. officials unable to corroborate the country's statement.

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The Observatory has a record of accurate reports from the Syrian conflict, according to Reuters.

Al-Baghdadi was born in Tobchi, near Samarra, in 1971 under the name Ibrahim Awad al-Samarrai, to a family of conservative Sunni preachers. He reportedly became an insurgent in 2003, when the U.S. sent troops to Iraq, and was captured by U.S. forces.

He was released after the military thought he was a civilian rather than a militant. In 2014, he made his only known public appearance in Mosul, where he announced ISIS' so-called caliphate.

Earlier in July, Abu Qutaiba, a leader and preacher for the terrorist group, was executed in Tal Afar for suggesting that al-Baghdadi was dead.

The man reportedly "broke down" in tears and "mumbled a few words" about al-Baghdadi's death after prayers, after which he was arrested, charged with "stirring sedition" and burned to death.

Sources: Daily Mail (2), Independent, Reuters / Photo credits: Russian Military Defense/Twitter via Daily Mail

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