>> Fresh reports Tuesday that Islamic State leader, Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, has been killed. The UK-based Syrian Observatory For Human Rights saying that senior figures in IS had told them of his death. Last month, Russia's Defence Ministry said they thought they had killed Baghdadi in air strikes on a gathering of IS commanders.
Washington said it couldn't corroborate the death. And so far Western and Iraqi officials have been skeptical. IS media outlets have not carried any news regarding the leader's possible death either. If Baghdadi really is no more, Reuters John Walcott says it won't be a fatal blow to the militants.
>> Baghdadi's death probably means less than some people will argue. Just as bin Laden's death did not mean the end of al-Qaeda, al-Baghdadi's death does not mean the end of ISIS. In fact, in some ways, it may make ISIS a more dangerous organization. Because the fight against it will no longer be confined to Syria and Iraq, but will spread.
>> Syrian Observatory has a credible track record, they say their sources in the Syrian town of Deir al-Zor were told of Baghdadi's death, but were given no information on when he was killed. Now something his departure could trigger, a realignment of Islamist groups.>> Baghdadi and Ayman Zawahiri, the head of al-Qaeda, simply did not like each other.
Zawahiri resented Baghdadi's rise, resented the fact that he did not pledge his loyalty to al-Qaeda. With him gone, I think there's some possibilities that didn't exist before, for some kind of reunion, to some degree.>> Baghdadi first declared a caliphate from a mosque in Mosul in 2014, but little has been seen or heard of him since.
If he is dead, there is no certainty about who might replace him. Whoever it is, the group will be determined not to die with its leader.