An Iraqi interior ministry official said the Islamic State group’s head Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi is alive and being treated at a field hospital in Syria after being wounded in an air strike.
“We have irrefutable information and documents from sources within the terrorist organisation that al-Baghdadi is still alive and hiding” in Syria’s northeastern Jazira region, said intelligence and counterterrorism department head Abu Ali al-Basri, quoted Monday in the government daily As-Sabah.
IS retains a significant presence in the desert plains of northeastern Syria’s Hasakeh province despite having lost most of its cross-border “caliphate” which once also covered a third of neighbouring Iraq.
Basri said that Baghdadi was suffering from “injuries, diabetes and fractures to the body and legs that prevent him from walking without assistance”.
The jihadist chief had been wounded in “air raids against IS strongholds in Iraq”.
Iraqi authorities last week published a list of “internationally wanted terrorist leaders” headed by the self-proclaimed IS “caliph”, born in 1971, under the name Ibrahim Awad Ibrahim Ali al-Badri al-Samarrai.
Last June, Russia said it had probably killed Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi in a late May air raid near Raqa in Syria, but later said it was still trying to verify his fate.
In September, an American military chief said the jihadist chief was still alive and probably hiding in eastern Syria’s Euphrates Valley.