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Iraq says Daesh chief Baghdadi hit in air raid
October 12, 2015
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BAGHDAD: Iraq claimed on Sunday to have struck a convoy carrying Daesh group leader Abu Bakr Al Baghdadi in an air raid near the Syrian border but said his fate was unknown.

Iraqi aircraft struck Baghdadi’s convoy as it was “moving towards Karabla to attend a meeting of the Daesh terrorist leaders,” an Iraqi security statement said.

Karabla lies on the Euphrates barely five kilometres from the Syrian border in western Anbar, a vast Iraqi province which has long been a Sunni insurgent stronghold.

The statement issued by Iraq’s “war media cell” said Baghdadi was “transported in a vehicle” after the strike but added that “his health status was unknown.”

The meeting place was also struck in the operation and several Daesh leaders already gathered there were killed and wounded, it said.

Interior ministry spokesman Saad Maan said that “the strike was yesterday (Saturday) at noon.”

In Washington, a US military official said: “We’ve seen the Iraqi statement about A -Baghdadi but have no info that confirms it.”

Baghdadi’s death would give the war against the most violent extremist organisation in modern history a much-needed boost but Iraqi security sources have made such claims in the past.

“It’s hard to confirm, there is definitely a psychological war going on between Iraqi intelligence and Daesh,” Iraqi analyst Ihsan Al Shammari said.

“But even if they just hit his convoy, that would show a real improvement in the field of intelligence,” he said.

Baghdadi’s apparent survival following similar claims, including one in November 2014 of a strike in the same area, has only added to his mystique.

The Iraqi extremist chief is said to have been born in the city of Samarra in 1971 but little is known about the man, who has a $10 million US bounty on his head.

Baghdadi apparently joined the insurgency that erupted after the 2003 US-led invasion of Iraq, at one point spending time in an American military prison in the country’s south.

His whereabouts have been the subject of constant speculation since his only public appearance as Daesh boss last year, at a mosque in the Iraqi city of Mosul days after the proclamation of a cross-border “caliphate.”

Reuters
 

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