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Abu Dhabi, UAEWednesday 19 September 2018

ISIL chief 'living out his last days' in Syria, says Iraqi official

Abu Bakr Al Baghdadi's poor physical and mental state has forced him to relinquish power, says an interior ministry official

An Iraqi man holds a profile of ISIL 'caliph' Abu Bakr Al Baghdadi released by Iraqi authorities. Ahmad Al Rubaye / AFP
An Iraqi man holds a profile of ISIL 'caliph' Abu Bakr Al Baghdadi released by Iraqi authorities. Ahmad Al Rubaye / AFP

ISIL leader Abu Bakr Al Baghdadi is alive but wounded and being treated in a field hospital in Syria, according to an Iraqi intelligence official.

Abu Ali Al Basri, director general of Iraq’s intelligence and counterterrorism unit at the interior ministry, was quoted as saying by the state-owned As-Sabah newspaper that Al Baghdadi was hiding in the desert by the Syrian-Iraqi border, northeast of Deir Ezzor in Syria.

Al Baghdadi sustained “severe” injuries from an air strike and his poor physical and mental health has forced him relinquish power, he said.

“We have irrefutable information and documents from sources within the terrorist organisation that Al Baghdadi is still alive and in hiding,” said Mr Al Basri.

“He is suffering from fractures and severe injuries in his leg and body that no longer allow him to walk unassisted.

“He was recently admitted to an ISIL-run hospital in the Jazeera desert.”

Mr Al Basri said that Al Baghdadi, who also suffers from diabetes, is “living out his last days”.

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Iraqi authorities last week published a list of "internationally wanted terrorist leaders" headed by the self-proclaimed ISIL "caliph", born in 1971, under the name Ibrahim Awad Ibrahim Ali Al Badri Al Samarrai.

Russia claimed it killed Al Baghdadi in a late May air raid near Raqqa in Syria but later said it was still trying to verify his fate.

In September, a US military chief said the ISIL leader was still alive and probably hiding in eastern Syria's Euphrates Valley.

The last public message by Al Baghdadi was in September last year. He was last seen in public declaring ISIL's "caliphate" from the Iraqi city of Mosul in July 2014.

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