Rawa (IraqiNews.com) Islamic State’s supreme leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi has reportedly fled Iraq to Syria in a yellow taxi, the Iraqi Media News Agency reported.
“After Iraqi troops invaded Qaim, Baghdadi was aware that his presence in Rawa threatens his life,” the news agency quoted an intelligence source as saying on Sunday evening.
Baghdadi urged the remaining militants in Qaim to “resume fighting, however, they let him down and escaped on board of their personal cars to Syria.”
“In a yellow taxi, Baghdadi fled Iraq and headed to Syria. He is believed to have settled in Deir al-Zor,” the source, who preferred anonymity added. “The IS leader insisted on taking a yellow cab in order not to be a source for doubts.”
In October, Pentagon said it believes Baghdadi was still alive. Anadolu Agency quoted Eric Pahon, a Pentagon spokesperson, as saying that the U.S. intelligence service verified an audio recording for Baghdadi, circulated previously, be authentic.
Saad al-Jayashi, head of the Defense Ministry’s War Media Cell, said in a televised interview on Saturday that Iraqi troops do not have orders to follow IS militants in Syria.
Ahmed al-Assadi, spokesperson for al-Hashd al-Shaabi [Popular Mobilization Forces] denied that troops reached to Deir al-Zor.
News reports had mentioned that PMFs, along other Iraqi troops, accessed Deir al-Zor in Syria and that Iraqi jets penetrated the Syrian airspace.
Many IS militants reportedly fled Qaim town, in western Anbar, heading to al-BuKamal in Syria, after several leaders ran away and were killed in airstrikes by the Iraqi and U.S.-Coalition jets.
Prime Minister Haidar al-Abadi announced on Friday full liberation of Qaim in record time. The operation started in late October.