ISIS leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi. File photo.
Nineveh (IraqiNews.com) Islamic State supreme leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi is still in Nineveh as the extremist group is effectively trapped inside the province, according to a senior leader of al-Hashd al-Shaabi (Popular Mobilization Units).
PMUs are running a joint intelligence task force with the Joint Operations Command to track Baghdadi’s movements, Jawad al-Tleibawi was quoted as saying on Saturday. “Initial information with the intelligence bodies tell that ….Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi remains in Nineveh….as security forces impose control over the eastern side of Mosul, while the western side is totally isolated from Syrian territories,” he stated.
Baghdadi has commanded the Islamic State since the extremist group’s emergence in Iraq and Syria in 2014 to proclaim the establishment of a so-called “Islamic Caliphate”. The group has taken over large areas of Iraq and Syria since then, but is currently losing most of its influence in both countries as government and international forces continue to battle the group.
Since October 2016, Iraqi government forces, backed by a US-led international military coalition and popular militias (PMU) have been leading a major security campaign to drive the group out of Nineveh’s city of Mosul, the group’s last urban stronghold in Iraq. Iraqi forces have said they liberated 90% of the eastern part of the city since then, but IS remains strong in the west, near the borders with Syria.