TEHRAN (Tasnim) – The leader of the Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant (ISIL), Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, has reportedly been “critically” injured in a US-led airstrike in Iraq that targeted a convoy of military vehicles allegedly carrying a group of senior ISIL members.
Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, a self-proclaimed as caliph of the ISIL was “critically wounded” during a US-led air operation in the Iraqi town of al-Qaim, tribal sources told Al Arabiya News Channel.
The strikes, which destroyed a vehicle convoy of 10 armed trucks late Friday, targeted a “gathering of ISIL leaders” near Mosul, US Central Command announced, however the Pentagon could not confirm whether al-Baghdadi was part of the escort.
“We cannot confirm if ISIL leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi was among those present,” CENTCOM said in a statement, stressing that US coalition continues to “pressure” the terrorist network, and the “group’s increasingly limited freedom to maneuver, communicate and command.”
MP for Iraq’s Anbar province, Mohammed al-Karbouli, confirmed the strike saying that the “international coalition aircraft targeted a meeting of ISIL leaders in Qaim city located west of Anbar which resulted in dozens of deaths and injuries and caused severe confusion among ISIL members who then cut off all roads in Qaim in order to transport their wounded to the hospital that was packed with the wounded and body parts,” Iraqi News reports.
Colonel Patrick Ryder, a Central Command spokesman specified that overnight strikes near al-Qaim also destroyed two ISIL checkpoints.
“I can confirm that coalition aircraft did conduct a series of air strikes yesterday evening in Iraq against what was assessed to be a gathering of ISIL leaders near Mosul,” said Ryder. At least 50 bodies were brought into Mosul’s morgue, officials told Reuters.
Al-Hadath TV outlet also named Baghdadi as one of the participants of the militants’ meeting targeted by US.
However, several ISIL affiliated Twitter accounts rejected the reports, saying that Baghdadi is alive and well and calling on all supporters to ignore any false news about his “death” or “entrapment.”
Until Baghdadi’s whereabouts are confirmed, nothing can be certain of his fate. Back in September, reports of his death in a US strike circulated. Thousands of social media users were tweeting photos claiming to show the body of al-Baghdadi, RT reported.
Baghdadi is something of an enigma, he is believed to have been born in Samarra, Iraq in 1971. At the time of the US-led invasion, reports indicate that he was a cleric in a mosque. Some reports suggest, that he was radicalized when he was held by US forces in Camp Bucca before being recommended for release by a Combined Review and Release Board.
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