White House ‘can’t confirm’ status of ISIS’ Baghdadi

There have been contradictory accounts out of Iraq following U.S. air strikes on Friday night about whether Baghdadi was wounded

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The United States cannot yet confirm whether the commander of the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS), Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, was killed or wounded in Iraq following an air strike near the city of Falluja, a White House spokesman said on Tuesday, according to Reuters news agency.

Deputy National Security Advisor for Strategic Communications Ben Rhodes was speaking on the sidelines of the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) summit in Beijing.

There have been contradictory accounts out of Iraq following U.S. air strikes on Friday night about whether Baghdadi was wounded.

Iraq: injured Baghdadi in Syria

However, the Iraqi Ministry of Interior on Monday revealed the names of those killed and wounded in the airstrike that targeted a gathering of ISIS leaders, noting that Baghdadi was transferred to Syria after sustaining injuries.

“The Iraqi airstrike, implemented in coordination with the military intelligence, targeted a meeting that was taking place in a kindergarten near al-Kennedy school in Saada in al-Qaaem, west of [the Iraqi province of ] Anbar. The meeting was to garner support from a terrorist group hailing from Syria,” the website of Al-Sumaria TV station quoted the minister as saying in a statement on Monday.

The ministry, which said the airstrike killed and wounded 40 ISIS militants, said “the airstrike has wounded leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi and killed two guards: Abu Hathifa al-Adnani and Ahmed Atallah.”

It also named those who reportedly accompanied Baghdadi to Syria, including Saddam al-Marsouni, Abu Ruqya al-Saudi and Abu Ahmed al-Tunsi.

The ministry also said Amr al-Absi, who a Saudi explosives expert, was killed as well as Salem al-Salmani who was reportedly in charge of suicide bombing operations in the Euphrates Vilayet.

Others who were reportedly killed included Abu Qutayba, mufti of the Euphrates Vilayet, and Syrian Abu Yousufa, according to the website.

“Among those killed was Abu Abdulraham al-Shishani, who is one of the most important terrorist leaders in Syria in addition to Nasir Talib al-Dahiri, who is a former al-Qaeda member, who worked with Abu Musab al-Zarqawi,” the website added.

Oil refinery

In a related story, Iraq's state television is reporting that army troops have driven out militants from ISIS from the heart of the town of Beiji, home to the country's largest oil refinery.

The television quoted the top army commander there, Gen. Abdul-Wahab al-Saadi, as saying troops recaptured the city's local government and police headquarters Tuesday.

Beiji, 250 kilometers (155 miles) north of Baghdad, was seized by the Islamic State group militants in the summer as part of their blitz across northern Iraq and areas to the west of the capital in Anbar province.

There was no immediate government confirmation of the television report, but al-Saadi said Saturday that his forces had recaptured most of the city.

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