Baghdad: ISIS leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi has been ‘critically injured’ in air strikes in northern Iraq, it has been claimed. The terror mastermind is said to have been wounded after a bombing raid in Al-Ba’aj, it has been reported locally.
However, it is not the first time claims have emerged that al-Baghdadi has been either hurt or killed and there has yet to be official confirmation.
The Pentagon said in December it believed that the ISIS chief was alive, despite repeated efforts by the US-led coalition to take out the jihadist group leader.
Baghdadi has kept a low profile, despite having declared himself the leader of a renewed Muslim caliphate, but last month released a defiant audio message urging his supporters to defend the northern Iraqi city of Mosul.
It is not clear if he is in the besieged city, where he declared his caliphate in 2014 after the ISIS group seized territory covering much of eastern Syria and northern Iraq.
‘We do think Baghdadi is alive and is still leading ISIL and we are obviously doing everything we can to track his movements,’ Pentagon spokesman Peter Cook told CNN.
If we get the opportunity, we certainly would take advantage of any opportunity to deliver him the justice he deserves,’ he said.
‘We’re doing everything we can. This is something we’re spending a lot of time on.’ In mid-December, the United States more than doubled the bounty on the shadowy ISIS leader’s head to $25 million.
The group has only released one video of Baghdadi, showing a man with a black and grey beard wearing a black robe and matching turban, dating back to 2014.
Cook suggested that Baghdadi is isolated because coalition raids have killed many ISIS leaders. ‘He’s having a hard time finding advisers and confidants to speak with because a lot of them are no longer with us,’ the spokesman said.
According to an official Iraqi government document, Baghdadi was born in Samarra in 1971. He apparently joined the insurgency that erupted after the 2003 US-led invasion of Iraq and spent time in an American military prison. There have been numerous reports in the last year that he has either been killed or injured – but none have yet been confirmed.
It comes amid separate reports an ISIS commander in charge of executing women has been assassinated in Iraq. Saudi national Abu Abdel Rahman was killed by an unknown gunman in besieged Mosul, the terror group’s northern Iraqi stronghold, according to a security source.
The fanatic, who oversaw the execution of women in the city, is understood to have been killed ‘right on the spot’.
According to IBTimes, the security source said: ‘The unknown gunmen shot at Abu Abdel Rahman, Isis’ senior commander, in al-Askari region in the centre of Mosul city, and he was killed right on the spot.’
It comes a day after it emerged that a British sniper in Iraq killed three ISIS terrorists with one bullet in what has been described as a shot in a million.
The SAS marksman fired one bullet that killed two men instantly before it ricocheted into a third during a November mission in a remote northern Iraqi village.