IS leader Baghdadi 'seriously injured in air raid'
Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi has been seriously injured in an air raid on his headquarters in northern Iraq, according to Iraqi officials and media reports.
An unnamed source in the Iraqi defence ministry told al-Araby al-Jadeed on Tuesday that the leader of the Islamic State group was wounded in an attack in March in al-Baaj, 120km south to Mosul. The raid was carried out by the US-led coalition against the IS group.
"Our information indicates that many US airstrikes were launched on IS-affiliated positions in al-Baaj, where IS leader Abu-Bakr al-Baghdadi was hiding with some companions," the source said.
"The airstrikes killed a number of his companions and injured two, including Baghdadi who was seriously wounded."
"The US airstrikes were reportedly targeting Baghdadi based on information on his whereabouts. There were previous reports in December of Baghdadi being attacked in Makr al-Dhayb, but he managed to survive."
A report in the Guardian, said an Iraqi official and a western diplomat separately spoke of the attack and the wounding Baghdadi.
|Many US airstrikes were launched on IS-affiliated positions in Baaj, where Baghdadi was hiding with some companions.
Iraqi defence ministry source
Baaj, a Sunni tribal area, has long remained outside of state control even under ousted Iraqi leader Saddam Hussein’s regime, and was considered a safe haven for jihadists from 2004 onwards.
It is considered a difficult mission to restore Baaj from the hands of the IS which occupied the city without any resistance after the collapse of Mosul and the escape of army troops from it.
Baaj is bordered by the Sinjar mountains to the north, the old cities of al-Qairawan and al-Hadfar to the east, Syria's al-Hasaka city to the west, and al-Anbar province to the south.
Hisham al-Hashimi, an expert on Iraq's security affairs, said on Facebook that "it was verified that Baghdadi was targeted by the US-led coalition airstrikes on 18 March in Baaj near Umm al-Roud village. The attack targeted local IS leaders and Baghdadi is still receiving treatment."
It is not the first time that official Iraqi sources and other military sources speak about Baghdadi being injured or killed.
In December, the Iraqi national security adviser, Muwaffaq al-Rabiei, claimed he was killed in an airstrike BETWEEN al-Anbar and Bou Kamal.
However, the group released a defiant audio recording it said was of Baghdadi's spokesman, Abu Muhammad al-Adnani, denying the speculations.
A few days later, it was revealed that Baghdadi's aide, Abu Muhannad al-Suwaydawi, had died in the attack.
This is an edited translation of the original Arabic.