Baghdadi probably still alive: U.S. commander

A convoy of Islamic State fighters and their families remains in the Syrian desert after turning back from the Iraqi border, the USA -led coalition said on Friday.

With a US$25 million (S$34m) bounty on his head, the Iraq-born Baghdadi has evaded capture for six years or more.

"Do I believe he's alive?".

He had seen little evidence to support the theory that Baghdadi was dead, he said.

"There are also some indicators in intelligence channels that he's still alive", said General Townsend.

Britain-based conflict monitor Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said later that it had it has "confirmed information" that the IS leader was dead.

Reports were circulated earlier in the year that Baghdadi had been killed in a Russian airstrike in Syria.


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

The city had become the next target of the US-backed war on the jihadist group following the capture of Mosul, where it had declared its "caliphate" over parts of Iraq and Syria in 2014. "And I think that's probably the most important thing that the government of Iraq has to do".

Townsend said he hopes the US government works out an arrangement for a long-term military presence in Iraq to minimize the chances of another IS-like episode. "As soon as we find out where he is, he will be", he said in July.

There have been several previous reports of Baghdadi's death. After being pressed repeatedly he exclaimed "I don't have a clue".

He credited the Trump administration with putting greater trust in him and other commanders to execute the counter-IS campaign. "Our judgment here on the battlefield in the forward areas is trusted".

"We're looking for him every day".


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