Islamic State group leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi was reportedly injured during an airstrike in May 2017, leaving him physically unfit to lead the group of Islamic extremists, per multiple reports.
The apparent injuries reportedly forced the terrorist leader to relinquish control of the Islamic State group, according to U.S. officials who spoke to CNN.
U.S. intelligence agencies have also indicated “with a high degree of confidence” that “the world’s most wanted man,” was near Raqqa, Syria, in May 2017 when the missile struck.
Intelligence agencies have reportedly gathered their information from detainees and refugees in Northern Syria who were said to have emerged months after the strike.
Al Jazeera reported Monday that al-Baghdadi suffered “serious wounds to his legs during air raids,” and is being treated at a medical facility in Syria.
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At the time of the airstrike, the Islamic State group was said to have been on the verge of losing control of Mosul, Iraq.
Moreover, Raqqa, considered to be the “capital” of the terrorist group was “nearly encircled by US-backed forces.”
Sources told the cable news network that it is unclear if al-Baghdadi’s injuries are the result of a targeted attack, or if it was “collateral damage.”
What’s more, officials are not aware of the exact date of the attack, and therefore have not determined if the strike in question was that of a “Coalition” aircraft or a Russian missile.
“There have been isolated strikes by Russians in Raqqa, but as there’s no timeline to it, we don’t know if it’s ours,” a U.S. official stated.
In June 2017, Russian military officials claimed to have injured or killed an Islamic State group leader, according to CNN.
The country’s Defense Ministry reported that they were investigating reports that al-Baghdadi was killed in an airstrike on May 28 near Raqqa.
However, experts warned that any reports of al-Baghdadi’s death should be examined skeptically, considering the number of false reports on the matter.
Additionally, one U.S. official asserted that Moscow was “making stuff up,” according to CNN.
When asked by CNN if the injuries meant al-Baghdadi had been able to return to his leadership role, although to a reduced organization, a U.S. official stated “Yes. I do not know how much Baghdadi is day-to-day running the shop.”
Since the airstrike, al-Baghdadi’s appearances have been limited.
The leader made his only public appearance in July 2014, in the al-Nuri Mosque in Mosul.
Although the Islamic State group has since released audio messages claiming to be of al-Baghdadi, released most recently in September 2017, which seems to have been recorded after Russian claims of his demise.
Currently, the U.S.-backed campaign is focusing its efforts on an area known as Jazeera, located along the Syrian – Iraqi border.
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