Iraqi strike kills ISIS leaders but not Baghdadi
Hospital sources and residents said ISIS head Baghdadi was not among the several Islamist leaders who were killed in Anbar
Eight senior figures from ISIS were killed in an air strike while meeting in a town in western Iraq, but the group's reclusive leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi did not appear to be among them, residents of the town and hospital sources said.
Iraq’s military said that it had targeted a meeting of ISIS leaders and a convoy carrying Baghdadi to the gathering in two separate airstrikes.
Earlier, a military statement said the Iraqi airforce struck a convoy of Baghdadi in western Anbar province close to the Syrian border.
“Iraqi air forces have bombed the convoy of the terrorist Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi while he was heading to Karabla to attend a meeting with Daesh commanders,” the statement read, using the Arabic acronym for ISIS.
Karabla is a town in Iraq’s Anbar province, an ISIS stronghold, not to be confused with Kerbala, a Shiite holy city in the south.
“The location of the meeting was also bombed and many of the group’s leaders were killed and wounded. The fate of murderer al-Baghdadi is unknown and he was carried away by a vehicle. His health condition is still unclear,” the military said.
The United States military declined to comment on the Iraqi military’s report.
This is not the first time Baghdadi, who has declared himself as the leader of a Caliphate in areas it controls in Iraq and Syria, was targeted.
In early 2015, Iraqi Prime Minister Haidar al-Abadi told the pan-Arab Al-Hayat newspaper that Baghdadi was wounded in an airstrike in Iraq’s northwestern town of al-Qa’im along the border with Syria
Abadi’s dubbed Baghdadi’s survival as “miraculous.”
Also, tribal sources in November last year told Al Arabiya News Channel that ISIS was “critically wounded” when a U.S.-led air strike targeted Qa’im.
In responce, ISIS supporters tweeted caliphate will survive "even if" leader Baghdadi has been killed.
ISIS remains in control of Iraq’s second largest city of Mosul after it waged a lighting offensive in June last year. Parts of Anbar are also under ISIS’s grip of power.
Coalition targets ISIS
In a related story, the United States and its allies staged 24 air strikes on ISIS in Syria and Iraq on Saturday, the Combined Joint Task Force said in a statement on Sunday.
Seventeen of the attacks were in Iraq, targeting Islamic State near 10 cities and hitting tactical units, buildings, weapons, fighting positions and other assets, the task force said.
In Syria, seven strikes struck similar targets, as well as a crude oil collection point.