US, Iraqi of­fi­cials can’t con­firm IS leader wounded

Pakistan Observer - - INTERNATIONAL -

BAGHDAD—US and Iraqi of­fi­cials fight­ing IS said on Fri­day they could not con­firm a re­port by an Iraqi TV chan­nel that IS leader Abu Bakr al-Bagh­dadi had been wounded in an air strike in north­ern Iraq.

A spokesman for the USled coali­tion fight­ing the rad­i­cal Is­lamist mil­i­tants, Colonel Chris Garver, said in an email that he had seen the re­ports but had “noth­ing to con­firm this at this time.”

Kur­dish and Arab se­cu­rity of­fi­cials in north­ern Iraq said they also could not con­firm the re­port. Al Su­maria TV cited a lo­cal source in the north­ern province of Nin­eveh say­ing that Bagh­dadi and other ISIS lead­ers were wounded on Thurs­day in a coali­tion air strike on one of the group’s com­mand head­quar­ters close to the Syr­ian border.

The chan­nel has good con­nec­tions with Shi­ite politi­cians and Iraqi forces en­gaged in the bat­tle against ISIS. There have been sev­eral re­ports in the past that Bagh­dadi, whose real name is Ibrahim al-Sa­mar­rai, was killed or wounded af­ter pro­claim­ing him­self caliph of all Mus­lims two years ago.

The ul­tra-hard­line Sunni group is un­der in­creased pres­sure in both Iraq and Syria, and the ter­ri­tory un­der its con­trol has shrunk sig­nif­i­cantly since 2014, lim­it­ing the po­ten­tial for its lead­ers to move around or seek shel­ter.

The US ear­lier this year an­nounced an in­ten­si­fi­ca­tion of the war on ISIS with more air strikes and more Amer­i­can troops on the ground to ad­vise and as­sist al­lied forces.

The US-led coali­tion has reg­u­larly flown raids out of Er­bil, the cap­i­tal of Iraq’s Kur­dis­tan re­gion, in op­er­a­tions aimed at killing and cap­tur­ing ISIS lead­ers.

A Kur­dish in­tel­li­gence of­fi­cial and an Arab from the Baaj area west of Mo­sul said the US-led coali­tion had con­ducted such a raid there ear­lier this week. The coali­tion did not con­firm this raid.—Age­nies

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