ISIS chief, Baghdadi, no longer in Mosul - US official

Orient Net - Agencies 2017-03-09 05:39:00

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Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, ISIS’ chief, has likely fled the Iraqi city of Mosul where he was believed to be in hiding as Baghdad forces approached, a US defense official said Wednesday.

Baghdadi remains "the head of the snake" and is "still alive," an official, who spoke to reporters on condition of anonymity, said, pointing out that exact whereabouts of the terror group is unknown.

She said the US-led anti-ISIS coalition is focused on eliminating the group’s mid-level battlefield commanders rather than diverting efforts to kill or capture Baghdadi. 

“In the same way that we did not defeat Nazi Germany by taking out Hitler, or we did not defeat the Japanese Imperial Army by killing Yamamoto, it’s very important for us to kill the battlefield commanders in order to defeat the army,” she said. 

ISIS is being progressively cornered in Iraq and Syria where parallel campaigns backed by the US-led coalition are eating into the territory that the group wanted as its "caliphate". 

In Syria, she believes ISIS’ leaders are leaving their self-declared capital of Raqqa as US-backed forces continue to work toward encircling the city. 

"I believe that there are ISIL , alternative name of ISIS, leaders who are probably questioning the viability of retaining the city of Raqqa over the long term,” the official said.

These remarks come as the US sent a Marine Corps artillery battery into Syria to help defeat the group in Raqqa.