Published: Fri, February 16, 2018
Global | By Craig Ferguson

ISIL chief 'living out his last days' in Syria, says Iraqi official

ISIL chief 'living out his last days' in Syria, says Iraqi official

Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi was badly wounded in an airstrike in May past year, forcing him to give up control of the terror group because of his injuries, USA officials told CNN.

An Iraqi interior ministry official said the leader of Daesh, Abu Bakr Al-Baghdadi, is alive and receiving treatment at a field hospital in the Syrian desert.

The United States, however, had said they could not confirm Baghdadi's death, and US Defence Secretary Jim Mattis had said he believed al-Baghdadi is still alive.

IS retains a significant presence in northeastern Syria's Hasakeh Province despite having lost most of its self-declared "caliphate", which once covered a third of Iraq and Syria.

American broadcaster CNN on Monday quoted United States officials as saying that al-Baghdadi was wounded in Raqqa and forced to relinquish command of the armed group because of his injuries. Russian Federation claimed it killed the ISIS leader during an airstrike in May 2017, but provided no evidence of his death.

However it offered no evidence to back up the claim and it was questioned by USA officials at the time.

"He is suffering from fractures and severe injuries in his leg and body that no longer allow him to walk unassisted".

Iraqi authorities last week published a list of "internationally wanted terrorist leaders" headed al-Baghdadi, who was born in 1971 under the name Ibrahim Awad Ibrahim Ali al-Badri al-Samarrai.

It is unclear whether Baghdadi was hit in a targeted attack or if he was "collateral damage", the report said.

The US-backed campaign is now focusing on the remaining pocket of territory controlled by ISIS - the stretch of desert along the Syrian-Iraqi border, known as Jazeera.

Basri added that the Daesh's leader had sustained injuries in "air raids against" the group's "strongholds in Iraq".

"There have been isolated strikes by Russians in Raqqa, but as there's no timeline for it, we don't know if it's ours", a USA official told CNN.

Analysts warned at the time reports of Baghdadi's death should be treated with skepticism given the high number of previous false reports.

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