ISIS Leader Killed in Airstrike?

American airstrike destroys ISIS convoy in Iraq, U.S. officials uncertain whether leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi was killed.

Ben Ariel,

ISIS leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi
ISIS leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi
Reuters

An American airstrike on Saturday destroyed an Islamic State (ISIS) convoy near the Iraqi city of Mosul, but U.S. officials are unclear whether the group's top commander, Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, had been in any of the 10 targeted vehicles, according to Reuters.

Colonel Patrick Ryder, a Central Command spokesman, said the U.S. military had reason to believe that the convoy, which consisted of 10 Islamic State armed trucks, was carrying ISIS leaders.

"I can confirm that coalition aircraft did conduct a series of airstrikes yesterday evening in Iraq against what was assessed to be a gathering of [ISIS] leaders near Mosul," said Ryder, according to Reuters.

He added, however, "We cannot confirm if [ISIS] leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi was among those present."

Islamic State had been changing its strategy since the airstrikes began, switching to lower profile vehicles to avoid being targeted, according to residents of towns the group holds.

A Mosul morgue official told Reuters that 50 bodies of Islamic State members were brought to the facility after the airstrike.

Mosul, northern Iraq's biggest city, was overrun on June 10 in an offensive that saw vast parts of Iraq's Sunni regions fall to the Islamic State and allied groups.

Earlier on Saturday, the Al-Hadath television channel said U.S.-led airstrikes targeted a gathering of Islamic State leaders in a town near the Syrian border, possibly including Baghdadi.

Iraqi security officials were not immediately available for comment on the report from the station, but two witnesses told Reuters an airstrike targeted a house where senior Islamic State officers were meeting, near the western Iraqi border town of al-Qaim.

Al-Hadath said dozens of people were killed and wounded in the strike in al-Qaim, and that Baghdadi's fate was unclear.




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