Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi's convoy 'hit in military air strikes' - but Isis denies leader's death

Claims of successful attacks on the Isis leader have been made before

Adam Withnall
Sunday 11 October 2015 12:55 BST
Baghdadi apparently forced himself upon the women living in his house
Baghdadi apparently forced himself upon the women living in his house (AP)

The Iraqi air force claims to have successfully targeted the convoy of the Isis leader, Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi.

In a statement, the military said it had hit the convoy in an air raid, adding that his fate remains unknown.

The Iraqi military said: "Iraqi air forces have bombed the convoy of the terrorist Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi while he was heading to Karabla to attend a meeting with Daesh commanders."

The military said the location of the planned Isis meeting was also bombed, and that "many of the group's leaders were killed or wounded".

It said the fate of al-Baghdadi was "unknown". "He was carried away by a vehicle. His health condition is still unclear," the statement said.

A Twitter site which publishes statements from Islamic State said "rumours" that an air strike had targeted Baghdadi were false.

Hospital officials and local residents later told the Reuters news agency that at least eight senior figures from Isis were killed in the air strikes on the meeting, which struck two houses in the Anbar province of Iraq.

Similar claims of attacks targeting the figurehead for the military group have been made before. It was reported that al-Baghdadi was injured in an air strike in April this year, prompting speculation that he would be forced to step down.

In mid-May, the leader re-emerged in a new audio recording, apparently alive and well, calling on "every Muslim in every place" to join Isis or take up arms. Analysts at the time said it was clear that the release was aimed at dispelling rumours al-Baghdadi had been incapacitated or replaced.

Born in Samarra in 1971, al-Baghdadi was radicalised after the American invasion of Iraq and spent time in Camp Bucca, the main US-run prison in the country after Abu Ghraib.

He rose through the ranks of al-Qaeda upon his release, until the outbreak of the Syrian civil war presented him with new opportunities as the leader of a revamped "Islamic State of Iraq".

Since Isis's dramatic rise, al-Baghdadi has become one of the US's most-wanted terror targets - though the bounty on his head remains lower than that of Ayman al-Zawahiri, the al-Qaeda leader who cast him aside when that group denounced Isis.

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