'High Degree of Confidence' Daesh Leader Baghdadi Wounded in Airstrike

ABC News

The militant chief had been wounded in "air raids against ISIS strongholds in Iraq".

"We have irrefutable information and documents from sources within the terrorist organisation that al-Baghdadi is still alive and hiding with the help of his collaborators", al-Basri said.

"He was recently admitted to an ISIL-run hospital in the Jazeera desert".

Russia's defence ministry has said it may have killed al-Baghdadi in one of its air raids on the outskirts of Syria's Raqqa, which was known as Islamic State's capital.

The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights subsequently claimed it had "confirmed information" that Baghdadi has been killed, citing high-level ISIS commanders.

In recent years, there have been endless conflicting reports about Baghdadi's whereabouts and about whether he is even alive. U.S. Defense Secretary Jim Mattis said in late July he assumes that Baghdadi is still alive.

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Intelligence officials believe Baghdadi had to relinquish control of the Daesh terror group for five months after he suffered non-life threatening injuries in the attack near the Syrian city of Raqqa, US media reported, adding that the estimation is based on reports from Daesh detainees and refugees in northern Syria.

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

According to Aljazeera network, despite a series of major military defeats over the past year, Daesh (IS) retains a significant presence in north-eastern Syria's Hasakah province.

In 2014, a video was released showing al-Baghdadi preaching during Friday prayer at a mosque in Mosul, Iraq, which was then held by ISIS.

He did not swear allegiance to the leader of the al-Qaeda franchise, Ayman al-Zawahiri, who had urged IS to focus on Iraq and leave Syria to al-Nusra.

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