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IS Announces Death of Leader al-Baghdadi's Son


FILE - This image from video posted in July purports to show Islamic State leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi delivering a sermon in Iraq, July 5, 2014. Islamic State media has announced the death of the leader's son.

The son of Islamic State leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi has reportedly died carrying out a suicide bombing against Russian forces in the western Syrian city of Homs.

IS's Nashir News posted a photograph of a young boy posing with a rifle, claiming he was Baghdadi's son Hudhayfah al-Badri. It did not say when he was killed.

"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," the news outlet reported.

Inghimasi refers to suicide operations in which a fighter, clad with explosive belt and armed with regular weapons, attacks an enemy position before detonating himself to inflict as much damage on the enemy as possible.

But an Iraqi intelligence report said al-Badri and 10 others were killed in a Russian missile attack on a cave. The report downplayed al-Badri's importance.

"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 Falcon intelligence report said Wednesday.

The U.S. military said it had seen the reports of al-Badri's death but declined any confirmation.

An Iraqi national, Baghdadi, whose real name is Ibrahim Awad al-Badri, announced the IS caliphate in Mosul in June 2014 and made himself its caliph. The U.S. government placed a $25 million bounty on his head.

Baghdadi's fate is still unknown; various reports have said he was dead or seriously wounded. These included a Russian Defense Ministry claim that he might have been hit by a Russian airstrike in 2017.

U.S. officials believe Baghdadi is likely alive, but his whereabouts remain unknown.

Baghdadi's infamous role in IS has put a spotlight on his family. In March 2014, Baghdadi's wife, Sujidah al-Dulaimi, was released by al-Qaida-linked al-Nusra Front militants, along with her two sons and daughter, in exchange for 13 nuns taken captive by that group.

It was reported that only the girl was Baghdadi's child. The two boys belonged to a man al-Dulaimi had married before meeting Baghdadi.

VOA National Security Correspondent Jeff Seldin contributed to this report.