ISIS leadership targeted in airstrike, fate of its leader Baghdadi unclear - Iraqi military

An image grab taken from a propaganda video allegedly shows ISIS leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi.
An image grab taken from a propaganda video allegedly shows ISIS leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi. PHOTO: AFP

BAGHDAD (REUTERS) - The Iraqi airforce carried out a strike on a house where Islamic State in Iraq and Syria (ISIS) leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi was thought to be meeting other commanders, Iraq's Iraqi military said in a statement on Monday (Feb 13), without making clear whether he had been hit.

The statement said Iraqi F-16s had targeted the house in western Iraq on Saturday. It also published the names of 13 ISIS commanders it said had been killed in the airstrike but the list did not include Baghdadi.

Three other ISIS positions in western Iraq were targeted in the same wave of air strikes, killing 64 fighters, the statement said.

The military said Baghdadi moved last week in a convoy from Raqqa, in Syria, to the region of al-Qaim, on the Iraqi side of the border, to discuss with commanders "the collapse happening in Mosul and to chose a successor for him".

Baghdadi, an Iraqi whose real name is Ibrahim al-Samarrai, has been reported wounded several times in the past. His last known public message goes back to November, when he called on ISIS fighters to defend Mosul, their last major urban stronghold in Iraq.

US-backed Iraqi forces have completed the first phase of the campaign to retake Mosul, removing the militants from the eastern side of the city last month.

An Iranian-backed Iraqi Shi'ite paramilitary force is also battling the Sunni militants west of Mosul, trying to prevent their escape to Syria.