ISIS Leader al-Baghdadi Killed in Raqqa by White Phosphorous Artillery Barrage
This time, there's the real possibility Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, the Iraqi criminal credited with founding the murderous group of thugs known as ISIS, has finally been killed.
Reports, albeit contradictory and unverified, appear to indicate al-Baghdadi was killed -- most likely burned to death -- on the evening of June 10 in a bombardment of Raqqa, the capital of the Islamic State caliphate declared by al-Baghdadi on June 29, 2014.
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Al-Baghdadi proclaimed himself "caliph" of the Islamic State and the "leader for Muslims everywhere."
At the time of his death, al-Baghdadi had a $34 million bounty on his head. He had been reported killed many times before, enough reason for some to doubt he was killed on June 10.
Much of the confusion about al-Baghdadi's death centered around how he died. Syrian state-run TV said the fugitive al-Baghdadi was killed in an airstrike by coalition air forces. Other news reports claimed he was killed in a heavy artillery bombardment.
Both accounts, however, agree al-Baghdadi was killed in a bombardment using either white phosphorous (WP) artillery shells fired from howitzers or WP bombs dropped from aircraft.
YouTube video of the attack on the evening of June 10 shows WP shells exploding in mid-air and their distinctive fiery trails hurtling towards the ground.
This indicates the explosions in mid-air were caused by WP artillery shells armed with proximity fuzes since WP bombs explode on contact with the ground.
The UK-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights reported 13 civilians killed in coalition air raids in Raqqa on June 10.
WP burns everything it touches. An incendiary weapon, WP (or Willie Pete to the U.S. Army) burns fiercely and ignite clothes, wood, fuel, ammunition; other combustibles and people. The U.S. Army uses Willie Pete munitions to create smokescreens.
The use of WP in populated areas is prohibited under international law and the coalition has not commented on its use in Raqqa.
On Nov. 15, 2016, the Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) launched a major offensive dubbed "Wrath of the Euphrates" to take Raqqa.
SDF consists of Syrian-Kurdish and Syrian-Arab militias that have received weapons, training and air support from the United States and its anti-Islamic State coalition.