This still from video posted to a militant website on July 5, 2014, purports to show ISIL leader Abu Bakr Al Baghdadi delivering a sermon at the now destroyed Grand Al Nuri mosque in Mosul.
This still from video posted to a militant website on July 5, 2014, purports to show ISIL leader Abu Bakr Al Baghdadi delivering a sermon at the now destroyed Grand Al Nuri mosque in Mosul.

Syria monitor says it has 'confirmed information' ISIL chief Baghdadi is dead



The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights war monitoring group claimed on Tuesday it had “confirmed information” that ISIL leader Abu Bakr Al Baghdadi had been killed in Syria.

If true, Al Baghdadi’s death would deal another major blow to ISIL — which has already lost Mosul in Iraq, the largest city under its control, and is taking major losses in its self-proclaimed capital of Raqqa in Syria — while also boosting the morale of the group’s many enemies. Claims of Al Baghdadi’s death have been made frequently in recent years, but Iraqi, Kurdish and US officials were unable to confirm the Observatory’s report on Tuesday.

The director of the UK-based monitor, Rami Abdul Rahman, told Reuters: “[We have] confirmed information from leaders, including one of the first rank, in the Islamic State in the eastern countryside of Deir Ezzor.”

While Mr Abdulrahman said his group had information of Al Baghdadi’s death, their sources did not specify when he died or how.

In a statement received by The National, US central command said it could not confirm the report "but hope[s] it is true".

“We strongly advise ISIS to implement a strong line of succession, it will be needed,” Centcom said.

In June, Russia said it may have killed Al Baghdadi during air strikes on ISIL commanders on the outskirts of Raqqa. After that claim, a Russian senator said the likelihood of Al Baghdadi being dead was "close to 100 per cent" while a representative of Iran's supreme leader said the ISIL leader was "definitely dead".

The US and others have cast doubt on Moscow’s claims, however.

The Iraqi-born Al Baghdadi declared an ISIL caliphate from Mosul’s ancient Grand Al Nuri mosque in June 2014 after his group made lightning gains across Syria and Iraq. At its height, ISIL’s territory stretched from the suburbs of the Iraqi capital, Baghdad, to northern Syria's Aleppo province, controlling a huge swathe of territory.

The group enforced puritanical laws in areas it controlled with twisted forms of capital punishment, executing or enslaving members of other faiths and sects. Like-minded extremists from around the world migrated to ISIL-held territory to help the group expand the area under its control.

But faced with attacks from the US-led anti-ISIL coalition and its allies on the ground in Iraq and Syria, the extremist group has suffered major losses, forfeiting much of its territory. While fighting is still ongoing, the group that seemed to be an unstoppable behemoth in 2014 is today not even a shadow of its former self.

With Mosul lost and Raqqa completely encircled, it is believed that senior ISIL leaders have fled elsewhere. As the group's fighters in Raqqa face certain defeat, ISIL is looking to make another last stand at Deir Ezzor to the south-east — the area where the Observatory said Al Baghdadi was killed.

Elsewhere in Syria on Tuesday, rebels operating near a recently-declared ceasefire zone in southern Syria claimed they had shot down a Syrian government jet.

The Lions of the East Army and the Ahmad Al Abdo Forces said the jet crashed into regime-held territory. The Observatory said the plane was shot down on the border of Sweida province — one of three provinces included in a ceasefire agreement brokered by the US, Russia and Jordan.

While the ceasefire held strong on its first day on Sunday, some clashes broke out on Monday and Tuesday in areas covered by the truce.

The tensions in the ceasefire zone come as representatives of the Syrian government and opposition were in Geneva for the seventh round of UN-sponsored peace talks.

The ceasefire is the first example of close co-operation between the US and Russia in Syria, but the deal could be derailed if violence in the area continues.

* Additional reporting by Reuters

COMPANY PROFILE

Name: Haltia.ai
Started: 2023
Co-founders: Arto Bendiken and Talal Thabet
Based: Dubai, UAE
Industry: AI
Number of employees: 41
Funding: About $1.7 million
Investors: Self, family and friends

A Cat, A Man, and Two Women
Junichiro
Tamizaki
Translated by Paul McCarthy
Daunt Books 

A QUIET PLACE

Starring: Lupita Nyong'o, Joseph Quinn, Djimon Hounsou

Director: Michael Sarnoski

Rating: 4/5

COMPANY PROFILE

Founder: Hani Abu Ghazaleh
Based: Abu Dhabi, with an office in Montreal
Founded: 2018
Sector: Virtual Reality
Investment raised: $1.2 million, and nearing close of $5 million new funding round
Number of employees: 12

Opening Rugby Championship fixtures: Games can be watched on OSN Sports
Saturday: Australia v New Zealand, Sydney, 1pm (UAE)
Sunday: South Africa v Argentina, Port Elizabeth, 11pm (UAE)

COMPANY PROFILE

Company name: Almouneer
Started: 2017
Founders: Dr Noha Khater and Rania Kadry
Based: Egypt
Number of staff: 120
Investment: Bootstrapped, with support from Insead and Egyptian government, seed round of
$3.6 million led by Global Ventures

Sweet Tooth

Creator: Jim Mickle
Starring: Christian Convery, Nonso Anozie, Adeel Akhtar, Stefania LaVie Owen
Rating: 2.5/5

SPECS

Engine: Twin-turbocharged 4-litre V8
Power: 625 bhp
Torque: 630Nm
On sale: Now
Price: From Dh974,011

Key developments

All times UTC+4

COMPANY PROFILE

Name: SmartCrowd
Started: 2018
Founder: Siddiq Farid and Musfique Ahmed
Based: Dubai
Sector: FinTech / PropTech
Initial investment: $650,000
Current number of staff: 35
Investment stage: Series A
Investors: Various institutional investors and notable angel investors (500 MENA, Shurooq, Mada, Seedstar, Tricap)

UAE players with central contracts

Rohan Mustafa, Ashfaq Ahmed, Chirag Suri, Rameez Shahzad, Shaiman Anwar, Adnan Mufti, Mohammed Usman, Ghulam Shabbir, Ahmed Raza, Qadeer Ahmed, Amir Hayat, Mohammed Naveed and Imran Haider.

The drill

Recharge as needed, says Mat Dryden: “We try to make it a rule that every two to three months, even if it’s for four days, we get away, get some time together, recharge, refresh.” The couple take an hour a day to check into their businesses and that’s it.

Stick to the schedule, says Mike Addo: “We have an entire wall known as ‘The Lab,’ covered with colour-coded Post-it notes dedicated to our joint weekly planner, content board, marketing strategy, trends, ideas and upcoming meetings.”

Be a team, suggests Addo: “When training together, you have to trust in each other’s abilities. Otherwise working out together very quickly becomes one person training the other.”

Pull your weight, says Thuymi Do: “To do what we do, there definitely can be no lazy member of the team.” 

MATCH INFO

Uefa Champions League semi-finals, first leg
Liverpool v Roma

When: April 24, 10.45pm kick-off (UAE)
Where: Anfield, Liverpool
Live: BeIN Sports HD
Second leg: May 2, Stadio Olimpico, Rome

SPECS: Polestar 3

Engine: Long-range dual motor with 400V battery
Power: 360kW / 483bhp
Torque: 840Nm
Transmission: Single-speed automatic
Max touring range: 628km
0-100km/h: 4.7sec
Top speed: 210kph
Price: From Dh360,000
On sale: September

SPEC SHEET: APPLE IPHONE 14

Display: 6.1" Super Retina XDR OLED, 2532 x 1170, 460ppi, HDR, True Tone, P3, 1200 nits

Processor: A15 Bionic, 6-core CPU, 5-core GPU, 16-core Neural Engine 

Memory: 6GB

Capacity: 128/256/512GB

Platform: iOS 16

Main camera: Dual 12MP main (f/1.5) + 12MP ultra-wide (f/2.4); 2x optical, 5x digital; Photonic Engine, Deep Fusion, Smart HDR 4, Portrait Lighting

Main camera video: 4K @ 24/25/3060fps, full-HD @ 25/30/60fps, HD @ 30fps; HD slo-mo @ 120/240fps; night, time lapse, cinematic, action modes; Dolby Vision, 4K HDR

Front camera: 12MP TrueDepth (f/1.9), Photonic Engine, Deep Fusion, Smart HDR 4; Animoji, Memoji; Portrait Lighting

Front camera video: 4K @ 24/25/3060fps, full-HD @ 25/30/60fps, HD slo-mo @ 120fps; night, time lapse, cinematic, action modes; Dolby Vision, 4K HDR

Battery: 3279 mAh, up to 20h video, 16h streaming video, 80h audio; fast charge to 50% in 30m; MagSafe, Qi wireless charging

Connectivity: Wi-Fi, Bluetooth 5.3, NFC (Apple Pay)

Biometrics: Face ID

I/O: Lightning

Cards: Dual eSIM / eSIM + SIM (US models use eSIMs only)

Colours: Blue, midnight, purple, starlight, Product Red

In the box: iPhone 14, USB-C-to-Lightning cable, one Apple sticker

Price: Dh3,399 / Dh3,799 / Dh4,649

Four scenarios for Ukraine war

1. Protracted but less intense war (60% likelihood)

2. Negotiated end to the conflict (30%)

3. Russia seizes more territory (20%)

4. Ukraine pushes Russia back (10%)

Forecast by Economist Intelligence Unit

FIGHT CARD

Featherweight 4 rounds:
Yousuf Ali (2-0-0) (win-loss-draw) v Alex Semugenyi (0-1-0)
Welterweight 6 rounds:
Benyamin Moradzadeh (0-0-0) v Rohit Chaudhary (4-0-2)
Heavyweight 4 rounds:
Youssef Karrar (1-0-0) v Muhammad Muzeei (0-0-0)
Welterweight 6 rounds:
Marwan Mohamad Madboly (2-0-0) v Sheldon Schultz (4-4-0)
Super featherweight 8 rounds:
Bishara Sabbar (6-0-0) v Mohammed Azahar (8-5-1)
Cruiseweight 8 rounds:
Mohammed Bekdash (25-0-0) v Musa N’tege (8-4-0)
Super flyweight 10 rounds:
Sultan Al Nuaimi (9-0-0) v Jemsi Kibazange (18-6-2)
Lightweight 10 rounds:
Bader Samreen (8-0-0) v Jose Paez Gonzales (16-2-2-)

COMPANY PROFILE

Company name: CarbonSifr
Started: 2022
Based: Dubai
Founders: Onur Elgun, Mustafa Bosca and Muhammed Yildirim
Sector: Climate tech
Investment stage: $1 million raised in seed funding

Pros and cons of BNPL

Pros

  • Easy to use and require less rigorous credit checks than traditional credit options
  • Offers the ability to spread the cost of purchases over time, often interest-free
  • Convenient and can be integrated directly into the checkout process, useful for online shopping
  • Helps facilitate cash flow planning when used wisely

Cons

  • The ease of making purchases can lead to overspending and accumulation of debt
  • Missing payments can result in hefty fees and, in some cases, high interest rates after an initial interest-free period
  • Failure to make payments can impact credit score negatively
  • Refunds can be complicated and delayed

Courtesy: Carol Glynn

Players Selected for La Liga Trials

U18 Age Group
Name: Ahmed Salam (Malaga)
Position: Right Wing
Nationality: Jordanian

Name: Yahia Iraqi (Malaga)
Position: Left Wing
Nationality: Morocco

Name: Mohammed Bouherrafa (Almeria)
Position: Centre-Midfield
Nationality: French

Name: Mohammed Rajeh (Cadiz)
Position: Striker
Nationality: Jordanian

U16 Age Group
Name: Mehdi Elkhamlichi (Malaga)
Position: Lead Striker
Nationality: Morocco


Latest
Most Read
Top Videos