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Russia Says It Killed ISIS Leader 2 Weeks Ago, Maybe, Possibly
After doing virtually nothing to aid the multinational campaign against ISIS in Iraq and Syria, the Russian government claims it may have just changed the course of the global war on terror forever.
The Russian Defense Ministry says it is “looking into” whether it killed ISIS chief and self-described caliph Abu Bakr al Baghdadi with a May 28 airstrike on a meeting of jihadi leaders on the outskirts of Raqqa, the New York Times reports.
The airstrikes, carried out by Russian Sukhoi Su-34 and Su-35 medium-range fighter-bombers, targeted a summit of high-ranking members of ISIS’s “military council,” the Russian Ministry of Defense said in a statement June 16. The bombing run took out at least 30 mid-level ISIS field commanders and nearly 300 fighters providing security detail, according to Russia.
That ISIS meeting, the Russians said, was called to explore exit routes for ISIS fighters fleeing the U.S-led coalition assault on Raqqa, which coalition military personnel and U.S.-backed Syrian Democratic Forces have encircled in recent weeks as part of strategically and symbolically important push to liberate the jihadis’ de facto capital.
If true, the death of Baghdadi would represent a huge blow to ISIS forces under increasing pressure across the region. But the Russians’ claim to victory is sketchy, to say the least.
U.S. military personnel fighting ISIS as part of Operation Inherent Resolve are still scratching their heads over the alleged strike that the Russians say neutralized Baghdadi. The New York Times observes that the Russian statement “offered no explanation for the two-week delay in publicizing the airstrike,” though the Russian Defense Ministry stated that it had notified the Department of Defense of the strike ahead of time.
Pentagon air commanders operating out of the essential U.S. Central Command forward operating base at Al Udeid in Qatar are now “going back over the reports from May 28 and the subsequent days to see what the Russians had said about flight operations,” OIR spokesman Col. Ryan Dillon told the New York Times.
DoD commanders are throwing cold water on news of Baghdadi’s death. “We cannot confirm these reports at this time,” Dillon said. The Pentagon said in a statement to Reuters that it had “no information” corroborating the Russian account of Baghdadi’s death. Even a colonel with the Iraqi security forces told Reuters that Baghdadi “was not believed to have been in Raqqa” at the time of the Russian strike.
(Public affairs officials for the Department of Defense and Operation Inherent Resolve did not immediately respond to request for comment from Task & Purpose.)
Though the U.S.-led OIR coalition and Russia have regarded one another with caution and suspicion amid dueling operations in war-torn Syria, both militaries have been slowly squeezing ISIS leadership as they work to beat back the rising tide of jihadi extremism in the region. In April, U.S. special operations forces took out a chief adviser to Baghdadi during a rare raid in Syria.
The mystery of Baghdadi’s “death” is not a new story — premature reports of his demise have emerged before — but now it’s a question that will plague U.S.-led coalition commanders for the next few days. Whether Russia deserves any credit for taking out a huge chunk of ISIS leadership is another question entirely.
At a time when taxpayer and foreign-government spending at Trump Organization properties is fueling political battles, a U.S. Marine Corps reserve unit stationed in South Florida hopes to hold an annual ball at a venue that could profit the commander in chief.
The unit is planning a gala to celebrate the 244th anniversary of the Marines' founding at President Donald Trump's Mar-a-Lago club in Palm Beach on Nov. 16, according to a posting on the events website Evensi.
QUANTICO, Virginia -- They may not be deadly, but some of the nonlethal weapons the Marine Corps is working on look pretty devastating.
The Marine Corps Joint Nonlethal Weapons Directorate is currently testing an 81mm mortar round that delivers a shower of flashbang grenades to disperse troublemakers. There is also an electric vehicle-stopper that delivers an electrical pulse to shut down a vehicle's powertrain, designed for use at access control points.
"When you hear nonlethal, you are thinking rubber bullets and batons and tear gas; it's way more than that," Marine Col. Wendell Leimbach Jr., director of the Joint Nonlethal Weapons Directorate, told an audience at the Modern Day Marine 2019 expo.
RACHEL, Nev. (Reuters) - UFO enthusiasts began descending on rural Nevada on Thursday near the secret U.S. military installation known as Area 51, long rumored to house government secrets about alien life, with local authorities hoping the visitors were coming in peace.
Some residents of Rachel, a remote desert town of 50 people a short distance from the military base, worried their community might be overwhelmed by unruly crowds turning out in response to a recent, viral social-media invitation to "storm" Area 51. The town, about 150 miles (240 km) north of Las Vegas, lacks a grocery store or even a gasoline station.
Dozens of visitors began arriving outside Rachel's only business - an extraterrestrial-themed motel and restaurant called the Little A'Le'Inn - parking themselves in cars, tents and campers. A fire truck was stationed nearby.
Alien enthusiasts descend on the Nevada desert to 'storm' Area 51
Attendees arrive at the Little A'Le'Inn as an influx of tourists responding to a call to 'storm' Area 51, a secretive U.S. military base believed by UFO enthusiasts to hold government secrets about extra-terrestrials, is expected Rachel, Nevada, U.S. September 19, 2019
One couple, Nicholas Bohen and Cayla McVey, both sporting UFO tattoos, traveled to Rachel from the Los Angeles suburb of Fullerton with enough food to last for a week of car-camping.
"It's evolved into a peaceful gathering, a sharing of life stories," McVey told Reuters, sizing up the crowd. "I think you are going to get a group of people that are prepared, respectful and they know what they getting themselves into."
Tom Delonge has been speculating about aliens for years. According to Vulture, he quit Blink 182, the band he founded, years ago to "expose the truth about aliens," and he founded To The Stars Academy of Arts and Sciences "to advance society's understanding of scientific phenomena and its technological implications" — or, in simpler terms, to research UFOs and extraterrestrial life.