MS Risk Blog

Iraqi Military Claims IS Leader’s Convoy Hit

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On Sunday, a military statement indicated that Iraq’s air force has hit a convoy of Islamic State (IS) group leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, adding that the fate of the leader was unknown.

According to Sunday’s statement, which was released by the interior ministry intelligence unit, the Iraqi air force “bombed the convoy of the terrorist Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi while he was heading to Karabla to attend a meeting with Daesh (IS) commanders.” The statement added that Baghdadi was “transported in a vehicle” after the air strike and that “his health status is unknown.” The statement concluded by indicated that “the location of the meeting was also bombed and many of the group’s leaders were killed and wounded.” The attack is said to have occurred in western Anbar province, near the border with Syria. Interior ministry spokesman Saad Maan has indicated that the strike occurred midday on Saturday. Hospital sources have disclosed that several IS fighters were amongst the casualties, however there was no sign of Baghdadi.

So far there has been no official comment from IS, however one IS media representative indicated that the government’s claim was aimed at boosting the morale amongst its troops.

While there have previously been several reports that the IS leader had been killed or seriously injured in attacks, none have been confirmed. One such claim in July 2014, was followed by a video of Baghdadi at a mosque in Mosul. The release of the video came amidst reports that he had been killed or wounded in an air raid. In November 2014, IS released an audiotape which it says was recorded by Baghdadi just days after reports emerged that he had been killed or injured. More recently in April 2015, rumours about Baghdadi’s death surfaced again after reports emerged that he was seriously wounded in an air strike earlier in the year by the US-led coalition that is opposing IS.

While the fate of Baghdadi in the wake of Saturday’s raid remains unknown, analysts have cautioned that military statements from the Iraqi authorities on the results of actions against jihadi or insurgent leaders have in the past been unreliable and are therefore treated with some caution

The IS leader has been careful to reveal little about himself and about his whereabouts, with source disclosing that even his own fighters reportedly do not speak about seeing him face-to-face. In October 2011, the United States officially designate Baghdadi as a “terrorist” and offered a US $10 million (£5.8 million) reward for information leading to his capture or death.

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