The leader of the Islamic State group (ISIS), now in retreat across the Mideast, remains alive, albeit wounded, and hiding near the Iraq-Syria border, according to intelligence gathered by Iraq’s Ministry of Defense (MOD).
“We have a lot of information. He is alive, moving between the Iraq and Syria border in desert areas,” Brig. Gen. Yahya Rasool, the spokesperson for the MOD and for Joint Operations Command, in partnership with the U.S.-led coalition, told Fox News in Baghdad on Tuesday. “There are still ISIS sleeper cells scattered in these desert areas.”
More specifically, MOD intelligence indicates the self-styled caliph lurks between the border city of Al-Qaim in the Anbar governorate in Iraq and Abu Kamal in Syria’s Deir ez-Zor governorate, on the bank of the Euphrates River.
Rasool could not provide an exact number of militant operatives who are left, but estimated that “tens” — Baghdadi among them — were still “living like rats” in remote underground shelters, with some using disguises like farmers or women’s coverings to evade detection.
“ISIS as an organization still exists,” Rasool cautioned. “We still expect terrorists and cells to attack.”
The newly disclosed intelligence marks the latest in a series of statements and speculations from various groups about where the terrorist leader may be and whether he is alive or dead.
A spokesperson for Operation Inherent Resolve, the official coalition name of the mission to eliminate ISIS, told Fox News there was no verifiable information on Baghdadi’s health or whereabouts, but U.S. forces are aware that members are still alive and “that includes some of its leaders who are in hiding.”
The spokesperson also said Baghdadi sustained “severe injuries” on Feb. 11 from an F-16 bomber strike in the al-Qaim area, which killed several of his guards. His condition has, according to Rasool, meant that his movement between the two countries is increasingly limited.
Read full article on Fox News by Hollie McKay, November 29, 2017