Top U.S. General In Iraq Unable To Say Whether Baghdadi Dead Or Alive

Top U.S. General In Iraq Unable To Say Whether Baghdadi Dead Or Alive

The U.S.-led coalition battling Islamic State does not have concrete information about whether Islamic State leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi is dead or alive, the senior U.S. general leading the campaign said on Tuesday (July 11), when asked about reports of his death.

"Despite all the helpful reports to us from every source imaginable, I'm unable to confirm or deny either where he is or whether he is alive or dead. Let me just say for the record my fervent hope is it is the latter," Lieutenant General Stephen Townsend told a news briefing.

The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said on Tuesday (July 11) that Islamic State (ISIS) leader Abu Bakr al-Bahdadi has been killed.

SOHR said it has “confirmed information” that the ISIS leader had been killed, Reuters reported on Tuesday, adding that it was unable to independently confirm the information.

Rumors of Baghdadi’s death have been circulating since the Russia claimed last month that one of its airstrikes on the outskirts of the Syrian city of Raqqa had killed the ISIS leader. Those Russian claims were met with skepticism from officials in the west.

The Pentagon said they had no information on the SOHR claim that Baghdadi had died.

Baghdadi, whose real name is Ibrahim al-Samarrai, has been reported wounded or killed several times in the past. His last known public message goes back to November, when he called on ISIS militants to defend Mosul.

His whereabouts have been unknown, although he was believed to be in Mosul before the Iraqi forces backed by the Coalition forces began operation to regain the city in October 2016.