Reports say IS chief Baghdadi hurt in air strike, US deniesLondon: Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, the leader of Islamic State, has been seriously wounded in an air strike in western Iraq, a media report said yesterday. The Pentagon, however, said there was no reason to think
London: Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, the leader of Islamic State, has been seriously wounded in an air strike in western Iraq, a media report said yesterday. The Pentagon, however, said there was no reason to think the self-styled caliph was wounded.
According to a report in the Guardian, Baghdadi, 44, suffered life- threatening injuries during the attack by the US-led coalition in March.
Two officials - a western diplomat and an Iraqi adviser - confirmed the strike took place on March 18 in the al-Baaj a district of Nineveh, close to the Syrian border, The Guardian reported.
“Yes, he was wounded in al-Baaj near the village of Umm al-Rous on 18 March with a group that was with him,” Hisham al-Hashimi, an Iraqi official who advises Iraq on IS, was quoted by the newspaper as saying.
However, the U.S. has no reason to think Baghdadi had been wounded, said a Pentagon spokesman. The media report, he said, appeared to have been “recycled” from a March story and Baghdadi had not been a target of the raid. “There was nothing to indicate that Baghdadi had been wounded or killed,” he said.
Baghdadi has made a slow recovery since then. He, however, has not resumed day-to-day control of the organisation.
Baghdadi's injuries led to urgent meetings of Islamic State leaders, who initially believed he would die and made plans to name a new leader, the newspaper quoted sources as saying.
There had been two previous reports in November and December of Baghdadi being wounded, though neither was accurate.
In October 2011, the US State Department had listed Baghdadi as a Specially Designated Global Terrorist, and announced a reward of up to USD 10 million for information leading to his capture or death.
In recent months, coalition air strikes have been increasingly effective in targeting the IS leadership.
Baghdadi's deputy, Abu Muslim al-Turkmani, and the head of the group's military operations in Iraq were both killed in early December.
After seizing control of a large swath of Iraq and Syria last June, and threatening Baghdad and Irbil, the IS has recently lost substantial ground in both countries.
(With inputs from agencies)