Anbar (IraqiNews.com) The Iraqi command leading the war against Islamic State has said recent reports about the injury of the group’s supreme leader in an airstrike could not be confirmed.
The Joint Operations Command said recent reports that Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi was seriously wounded in an airstrike in the province of Anbar could not be ascertained yet, adding that the command would make sure to announce it officially once confirmed.
The statement came hours after Alhurra news network reported on Sunday that Baghdadi was badly injured when an Iraqi army airstrike bombed a location where he was chairing a meeting with fellow leaders.
Alhurra’s reporter quoted intelligence sources within the Interior Ministry as saying that Baghdadi was transferred to the group’s strongholds in Syria following his injury.
Also, Nazem al-Jugheifi, a senior commander at al-Hashd al-Shaabi (Popular Mobilization Units), was quoted by news websites as saying that Baghdadi was wounded in Anbar’s western city of Qaem, adding that the group imposed a curfew in the area.
IS has held some towns in western Anbar since 2014, and used them as launching points for its attacks against civilians and security forces in the province. Iraqi and U.S.-led coalition fighter jets regularly bombard those locations, leaving casualties among the group.
Baghdadi’s exact whereabouts have largely been uncertain since he emerged in 2014 to0 proclaim himself the ruler of a self-styled “Islamic Caliphate” in Iraq and Syria.
This is not the first time unconfirmed news spoke about Baghdadi’ sustaining injuries in military operations, and many unestablished reports even spoke about his death.
Iraqi premier Haider al-Abadi said in a recent interview with France 24 that his government was aware of Baghdadi’s exact location, and said the latter was living in isolation after losing many of his comrades in battles.
Since the Iraqi government launched a U.S.-backed offensive in mid October to retake Mosul from Islamic State, the extremist group has sustained severe losses in personnel and ground. It has also bee stricken with divisions and infighting, with reports of attempted dissent and executions of delinquent fighters growing.
Recent reports have said that the idea of dishonoring the pledge of allegiance to the group’s supreme leader, Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, have become on the table as Baghdadi’s whereabouts or survival proved to be questionable.