Islamic State chief al-Baghdadi still alive, says commander

Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi

Baghdad ( Leader of Islamic State militant group Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi is still alive as he hides in desert border areas between Iraq and Syria, a military commander said.

“Al-Baghdadi is not dead and still moving in the desert areas on the border between Iraq and Syria,” Spokesperson for the Joint Operations Command Brigadier General Yahya Rasool said.

“To be more precise, al-Baghdadi, according to our intelligence information, is moving between Iraq’s border city of Al-Qa’im and Syria’s Abu Kamal city on the Euphrates River,” he stressed.

Rasool added that dozens of Islamic State militants are still hiding at underground shelters in such border areas, escaping from security campaigns launched by Iraqi troops.

In June, the Russian Defense Ministry said its airstrikes might have killed al-Baghdadi in an airstrike on a gathering of Islamic State commanders on the outskirts of the Syrian city of Raqqa.

However, a senior US general has said in September that al-Baghdadi is probably still alive and may be hiding in a remote border area between Iraq and Syria.

Gen Stephen Townsend, the commander of the anti-IS coalition, said the Islamic State chief may have fled as IS strongholds have been under attack in both countries.

Al-Baghdadi emerged as leader of al-Qaeda in Iraq, one of the groups that later became Islamic State, in 2010.

In October 2011, the US officially designated Baghdadi as a terrorist. It has offered a reward of up to $25m (£19.6m) for information leading to his capture or death.

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