ISIL Figures Killed in Airstrike, Baghdadi Not Believed among Them
TEHRAN (Tasnim) – Eight senior figures from Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) were killed in an airstrike 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 said on Sunday its air force had hit the meeting and had also struck a convoy that was carrying Baghdadi to attend it. It said Baghdadi had been driven away from the convoy in an unknown condition.
The Iraqi military's announcement was the latest unconfirmed report of the possible death or injury of Baghdadi, who has survived a year of US-led airstrikes and multi-sided wars in two countries since proclaiming himself caliph of all Muslims after his forces swept through most of northern Iraq last year.
A Twitter site which publishes statements from ISIL said "rumors" that an airstrike had targeted Baghdadi were false, Reuters reported Monday.
A US military official in Baghdad, speaking on condition of anonymity, said the United States has not seen any indications Baghdadi was killed or injured during the operation.
"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 Iraqi military said in a statement.
Daesh is the Arabic acronym for Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant, also known as ISIL. Karabla is a town in Iraq's Anbar province near the Syrian border, an ISIL stronghold, not to be confused with Kerbala, a Shi'ite 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.
Hospital sources and residents said airstrikes hit two houses and killed eight senior local leaders of an ISIL police force in the town.
Russia has recently launched a bombing campaign to hit ISIL positions in Syria, where a year-long air campaign by a US-led coalition of Western and Arab forces against ISIL has failed to push back the militants.