Middle East

Iraq IS: Military claims al-Baghdadi convoy hit

Still from video showing Baghdadi in first video sermon, 4 July 2014 Image copyright AP
Image caption Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi was filmed in Mosul last year

Iraq's air force has hit a convoy of Islamic State leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, a military statement says.

The fate of the IS leader was unknown, it said.

Hospital sources told Reuters news agency that several IS figures were among the casualties but there was no sign of Baghdadi.

There have previously been reports that the IS leader has been killed or seriously injured in attacks, but none was subsequently confirmed.

The BBC's Jim Muir says military statements from the Iraqi authorities on the results of actions against jihadi or insurgent leaders have been unreliable in the past, and are treated with some caution.

'Morale boost'

The attack is said to have happened in western Anbar province, near the Syrian border.

The Iraqi air force "bombed the convoy of the terrorist Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi while he was heading to Karabla to attend a meeting" with Daesh (IS) commanders", Sunday's statement from an interior ministry intelligence unit said.

Baghdadi was "transported in a vehicle" after the air strike but "his health status is unknown," the statement said.

"The location of the meeting was also bombed and many of the group's leaders were killed and wounded."


Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi: A much-reported death

  • April 2015: Rumours about Baghdadi's death surface after reports that he was seriously wounded in an air strike earlier in the year by the US-led coalition that is opposing IS.
  • November 2014: Islamic State releases an audiotape it says was recorded by its leader days after reports Baghdadi had been killed or injured.
  • July 2014: A video of Baghdadi at a mosque in Mosul surfaces amid reports that Baghdadi had been killed or wounded in an air raid.

Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi: Veil of mystery surrounds group's leader

How the Islamic State is run: What we know about the organisation's structure


Interior ministry spokesman Saad Maan told AFP the strike happened at midday on Saturday.

There has been no official IS response, however one IS media representative said the government's claim aimed to boost the morale of its troops.

There have been several claims that Baghdadi or other IS leaders have been killed or seriously injured in air strikes.

One such claim, in November 2014, was followed a few days later by an audio message from Baghdadi who apparently remained alive and well.

The IS leader has been careful to reveal little about himself and his whereabouts, and even his own fighters reportedly do not speak about seeing him face-to-face.

In October 2011, the US officially designated Baghdadi as a "terrorist" and offered a $10m (£5.8m; 7.3m euros) reward for information leading to his capture or death.