The Islamic State militant group says its leader’s son has been killed in Syria.
The announcement was released on ISIS’ social media accounts on Tuesday, the Associated Press reported. It was accompanied by a photo of a boy holding an assault rifle.
The boy is identified as Huthaifa al-Badri. He is the son of ISIS group leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi.
“Hudayfah al-Badri… the son of the Caliph… was killed in an operation against the Nusayriyyah and the Russians at the thermal power station in Homs,” the announcement said, according to The Independent. Nusayriyyah is a name for the Alawite community in Syria, of which Syrian President Bashar al-Assad is a member.
He looks very young. pic.twitter.com/XEpPM5nj35
— Charles Lister (@Charles_Lister) July 3, 2018
The announcement described the boy as an “inghimasi,” which is a suicide fighter, although it did not state how the boy died.
He was said to be killed during combat against Syrian and Russian troops in the central Homs province.
The announcement will likely be used as a propaganda piece for ISIS, and it has already gained admiration and praise from supporters.
The date of the boy’s death was also not revealed. However, war monitoring group the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights dated the most recent ISIS operations to the first two weeks of June.
The boy’s father, al-Baghdadi, has been the center of numerous reports claiming his death or injury, but he is believed to be living, and his whereabouts are unknown.
In 2014, a woman and child believed to be his wife and daughter were held in Lebanon.
The death of his son is said to demonstrate al-Baghdadi’s deep commitment to the militant group, dispelling his followers’ concerns after he appeared to be in hiding.
Director @ShirazMaher said propaganda surrounding the son’s death allows IS to “double down on the so-called bona fides of Baghdadi as a warrior scholar, who’s been a leader, who’s lived with his people; an impression they’ve always tried to project” https://t.co/hCFGDpEYeL
— ICSR (@ICSR_Centre) July 5, 2018
ISIS has been purged from almost all their strongholds in Syria and Iraq, although it still controls some areas in the Syrian desert and remote border areas.
One of their last pieces of territory in eastern Syria came under fire by a U.S.-led coalition, killing 12 ISIS militants. Another 11 militants were killed by a landmine in southwest Syria.
Approximately 330,000 people – along with 60,000 at the Jordanian border – have been displaced due to recent attacks in Syria. The fighting is expected to displace even more people.
U.N. deputy spokesman Farhan Haq said: “The situation of internally displaced people at the Jordanian border is precarious, aggravated by dusty desert winds and high temperatures of up to 45 degrees Celsius.”
Jordan has closed its borders after taking in 660,000 Syrian refugees and refusing to accept more. U.N. officials are calling for a humanitarian response to the conflict.
The attacks in Syria signaled the end of a year-long peace period facilitated by Russia, Jordan and the U.S.