The leader of the Islamic State (aka ISIS), Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, was “critically wounded” when a U.S.-led air strike targeted the western Iraqi border town of al-Qaim at week's end, tribal sources told Al Arabiya News Channel on Saturday.
ISIS spokesman Abu Mohammed al-Adnani confirmed Sunday that al-Baghdadi was hurt, but said he was not killed. “We calm down the Islamic nation: Abu-Bakr al-Baghdadi is alive, thank G-d. Pray for his swift recovery,” he added.
U.S. Central Command confirmed in a statement that U.S.-led air strikes targeted ISIS leaders near their northern Iraqi hub of Mosul late Friday, without confirming whether Baghdadi was killed, AFP reported.
“This strike demonstrates the pressure we continue to place on the ISIL [ISIS] terrorist network and the group's increasingly limited freedom to maneuver, communicate and command," U.S. Central Command said.
Anbar province MP Mohammad al-Karbuli told Al Arabiya News Channel that coalition aircraft had targeted a gathering of ISIS leaders in al-Qaim. Tens of people were killed many more wounded, he said.
Karbuli al-Qaim hospital which was overwhelmed with the number of patients.
Reuters news agency quoted two witnesses as saying an air strike targeted a house where senior ISIS officers were meeting, near al-Qaim.
The witnesses said ISIS fighters had cleared a hospital so that their wounded could be treated and that ISIS fighters used loudspeakers to urge residents to donate blood.