Elusive Islamic State leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi is probably nevertheless alive and probable hiding within the Middle Euphrates River Valley, a senior US widespread stated Thursday.
“We’re seeking out him each day. I don’t think he’s lifeless,” Lieutenant General Stephen Townsend, commander of the counter-IS coalition in Iraq and Syria, advised newshounds in a conference call.
Townsend admitted he didn’t “have a clue” where Baghdad is exactly, but believes he may additionally have fled with many different IS soldiers into the Middle Euphrates region stretching from Syria to Iraq, after coalition and nearby force attacks on the IS bastions of Mosul, Raqa, and Tal Afar.
“The last stand of ISIS might be from the Middle Euphrates River Valley,” Townsend stated.
“When we discover him, I suppose we’ll try and kill him first. It’s probably not worth all the hassle to try to capture him.”
With a $25 million US bounty on his head, Iraq-born Baghdadi has correctly prevented an excessive effort to seek him out for 6 years or more.
Britain-primarily based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, an established conflict reveal, said in mid-June that it had heard from senior IS leaders in Syria’s Deir Ezzor province that Baghdadi became dead.
Russia’s navy started in mid-June, that it became looking to affirm whether it had killed him in a May airstrike in Syria.
“I’ve visible no convincing evidence, intelligence, or open-source or other rumor or in any other case that he’s lifeless… There are also some indicators in intelligence channels that he’s nevertheless alive,” stated Townsend.
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IS chief Baghdadi in all likelihood nonetheless alive – US commander
The leader of the Islamic State (IS) institution might still be alive; a senior US general has stated, contradicting a claim with the aid of Russia, that it probably killed him in a raid in Syria in May.
Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi may be hiding in a faraway border area among Iraq and Syria, said Gen Stephen Townsend, the anti-IS coalition commander.
He may have fled as IS strongholds had been beneath assault in each nation.
Baghdadi’s whereabouts were unknown for some time.
In June, Russia said there had been an “excessive possibility” that Baghdadi was killed a month in advance in a
Russian airstrike on Raqqa, IS’s de facto capital in northern Syria.
Since then, local anti-IS corporations have intensified a floor attack at the town, wherein an anticipated 2,000 militants are holed up.
Where is Baghdadi?
Islamic State group: The full tale
There were several preceding reports of Baghdadi’s death. But on Thursday, Gen Townsend stated there have been “indicators in intelligence channels that he’s still alive.”
“We’re looking for him every day. I do not assume he is lifeless,” he told journalists, repeating that he had “no clue” as to where the IS leader turned into.
“The remaining stand of Isis can be in the Middle Euphrates River Valley,” he brought, the usage of an alternative name for IS. “When we discover him, I think we’ll try to kill him first. It’s probably now not well worth all of the trouble to try to seize him.”
Baghdadi turned into believed to be in Mosul, Iraq, before a US-led coalition commenced an attempt to reclaim the city in October 2016.
In recent years, he has made best one public appearance – in a video turning in a sermon in Mosul on 5 July 2014, quickly after IS captured the city.
His remaining audio message became released on 2 November remaining yr.
Who is Baghdadi?
Baghdadi – a nom de guerre instead of his real call – is thought to had been born in Samarra, north of Baghdad, in 1971.
Reports suggest he turned into a cleric in a mosque in the metropolis at the time of the US-led invasion in 2003.
Some agree with he changed into already a militant jihadist for the duration of Saddam Hussein’s rule. Others advise he was radicalized in the 4 years he changed into held at Camp Bucca, a US facility in southern Iraq where many al-Qaeda commanders have been detained.
He emerged as the chief of al-Qaeda in Iraq, one of the groups that later have become the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (IS), in 2010.
N October 2011, America formally specified Baghdadi as a terrorist. It has offered praise of as much as $25m (£19.6m) for records main to his seizure or demise.