Moscow is dismissing President Trump’s celebratory statements on the US special forces raid which allegedly killed Islamic State leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi as but premature ‘propaganda’.
Detailing some of the dismissive statements to come out of Russia hours following the major White House announcement of the terror’s leader’s death — or what’s become the Trump administration’s own “bin Laden moment” — The Daily Beast cites Russian state TV correspondent in the United States Denis Davydov as saying “Trump has elections coming up in a year and this announcement of al-Baghdadi’s liquidation will add some points for the Commander-in-Chief.”
And more provocative is that the Kremlin has even rejected the rare praise that Trump personally heaped upon its military for its cooperation in Baghdadi’s killing, as we noted previously. Trump said in his Sunday morning ‘victory’ speech: “[The Russians] were very cooperative, they really were good… Russia treated us great. They opened up, we had to fly over certain Russia areas, Russia-held areas. Russia was great.”
However, Russian Defense Ministry’s spokesman, Major General Igor Konashenkov, shot back soon after the praise, stating in part: “The Russian Defense Ministry has no reliable information about U.S. servicemen conducting an operation for ‘yet another’ elimination of the former Daesh leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi in the Turkish-controlled part of the Idlib de-escalation zone.” The Kremlin has rejected the assertion that it had any kind of involvement in the “daring nighttime raid,” as the White House describes it.
Gen. Konashenkov’s sarcastic ‘yet another’ quip references the fact that there’s been at least three major instances where international media reported Baghdadi’s death over the past years. And as former US special forces soldier and now journalist Jack Murphy pointed out, the number of past total official claims related to the mysterious terror leader being killed or severely injured is at over a dozen (whether claimed by US, Iraqi, Russian, or Kurdish official sources).
Before everyone gets all excited, have you seen a shred of evidence that “Al-Baghdadi” was in charge of ISIS or anything for that matter? The guy is a meme, not a Saturday morning cartoon character.
— Jack Murphy (@JackMurphyRGR) October 27, 2019
Furthermore, the Russian Defense Ministry (MoD) explained “there were legitimate questions and doubts about the very fact [of the US operation] and, especially, its success,” saying they have no recorded proof of US coalition airstrikes in the Idlib area Saturday night. The MoD also rejected the notion that it opened its administered airspace over the Idlib de-escalation zone in question to US warplanes.
Gen. Konashenkov further argued that it was ultimately the Syrian Army backed by Russian air power which had already defeated ISIS, and al-Baghdadi’s death even if confirmed, “has absolutely no operational significance on the situation in Syria or on the actions of the remaining terrorists in Idlib.”
Crisis Group think tank senior analyst Sam Heller observed Sunday that “Baghdadi’s personal centrality to the organization’s success is unclear,” given that “the group seems to have invested in systematizing and institutionalizing itself in a way that could mitigate the loss of any single leader, even at the very top.”