ISIS Leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi Is Likely Alive, US Commander Says

ISIS Leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi Is Likely Alive, US Commander Says

ISIS Leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi Is Likely Alive, US Commander Says

A senior USA general has said that the leader of the Islamic State group, Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, is still alive but the coalition does not "have a clue" about where he is.

The general who heads the US-led anti-Isis coalition Operation Inherent Resolve does not think that Russian and Assad regime claims that Baghdadi has been killed in an air strike are true. The Syrian Human Rights Watch said in early July that Baghdad may have been dead, referring to the leaders of the group in the province of Deir i Zur.

Townsend emphasized he was speaking personally but noted that "some indicators in intelligence" indicate Baghdadi remains alive along with no specific intelligence that he had been killed. Quite honestly, I hope he's deader than a doornail.

In June, Russian officials said there was a high possibility Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi had been killed by one of its airstrikes on the outskirts of Raqqa.

After Baghdadi declared the creation of the Islamic State in July 2014 at the Grand Al-Nuri Mosque in Mosul, ISIS went on to become the most feared jihadist group in the world.

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Speaking to reporters at the Pentagon from his headquarters in Baghdad, Townsend said USA and coalition forces are actively searching for al-Baghdadi.

"When we find him, I think we will try to kill him first, and there is no point in trying to catch him", he said. The U.S. -led coalition says it was not a party to the deal. "It has to reach out, reconcile, bring all Iraqis together and be the government of all Iraqis".

Townsend is ending his year in command in Baghdad and will hand off next week to another three-star Army general, Paul Funk II.

"We all saw what happened in 2011 when we parted ways completely", he said, referencing the pullout of USA troops under former President Barack Obama and Iraq's subsequent struggles. "Our judgment here on the battlefield in the forward areas is trusted".

"If he's alive out there somewhere, we're looking for him every day".

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