Home Latest News U.S. Has No Proof I.S. Leader Baghdadi Dead: Mattis

U.S. Has No Proof I.S. Leader Baghdadi Dead: Mattis

by AFP

Emmanuel Dunand—AFP

Pentagon chief says Washington will continue to assume militant leader is alive until proven otherwise

Pentagon chief Jim Mattis said on Friday he cannot confirm whether or not Islamic State chief Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi is dead, after reports from Syria that the jihadist leader had been killed.

“If we knew, we would tell you—right now, I can’t confirm or deny it,” Mattis said. “Our approach is we assume he’s alive until it’s proven otherwise, and right now I can’t prove it otherwise.”

The Britain-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, a longtime conflict monitor, said earlier this week it had heard from senior I.S. leaders in Syria’s Deir Ezzor province that Baghdadi was dead. There was no official confirmation or denial of the news on I.S.-run social media outlets.

“We’ll go after him until he’s gone,” Mattis said.

There have been persistent rumors that Baghdadi has died in recent months. Russia’s army said in mid-June that it was seeking to verify whether it had killed the I.S. chief in a May airstrike in Syria.

With a $25 million U.S. bounty on his head, Baghdadi has kept a low profile but was rumored to move regularly throughout I.S.-held territory in Iraq and Syria.

The 46-year-old Iraqi has not been seen since making his only known public appearance as “caliph” in 2014 at the Grand Mosque of Al-Nuri in Mosul, which was destroyed in the battle for Iraq’s second city.

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