U.S. Military Commander Believes Al-Baghdadi Is Still Alive
The head of U.S forces in Iraq and Syria said he believes Islamic State (ISIS) leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi is still alive.
Army Lt. General Stephen Townsend said coalition forces were actively searching for al-Baghdadi, adding if found he would likely be killed and not captured.
“I don't think he's dead, we're looking for him every day. When we find him, I think we'll probably just try to kill him first. Probably, probably not worth all the trouble to try to capture him, that's my own personal thought,” Townsend said on Thursday (August 31).
His remarks came after the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said on July 11 that it had “confirmed information” that the ISIS leader had been killed.
Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov said in June Russia did not have 100 percent confirmation that Baghdadi was killed after Russia's Defense Ministry said it was checking information that a Russian airstrike near the Syrian city of Raqqa may have killed al-Baghdadi in late May.
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.