United States commander: IS leader al-Baghdadi probably still alive

The Islamic State leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi is probably still alive and planning a last stand in the middle Euphrates valley, according to the latest coalition military assessments.

With a $25 million U.S. bounty on his head, Iraq-born Baghdadi has successfully avoided an intense effort to seek him out for six years or more.

"Do I believe he's alive?".

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

Russian Federation claimed in mid-June to have killed Baghdadi in a May airstrike near the eastern Syrian city of Raqqa as he met with other top ISIS leaders.

The fate of IS chief Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi is still unknown even as Iraqi military spokesman said on Thursday the city of Tal Afar has been fully liberated.

Baghdadi was believed to be in Mosul, Iraq, before a US-led coalition began an effort to reclaim the city in October 2016.

Despite the bounty on Baghdadi's head, Townsend said, "When we find him, I think we'll just try to kill him ..."

Townsend said he hopes the USA government works out an arrangement for a long-term military presence in Iraq to minimize the chances of another IS-like episode.

The coalition said in a statement that during July, it had investigated 37 reports of civilian casualties.

There have been several previous reports of Baghdadi's death.

"My personal view is I wouldn't want to repeat that", Townsend said.

He credited the Trump administration with putting greater trust in him and other commanders to execute the counter-IS campaign. "And we don't get 20 questions with every action that happens on the battlefield and every action that we take".

"A key result of that is that we don't get second-guessed a lot", he added.


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