Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, the self-proclaimed leader of the Islamic State group, has been wounded by an Iraqi airstrike in the town of Al-Qa’im, nearly 250 miles northwest of Baghdad near the Syrian border, Al-Hayat, a regional news outlet, reported Tuesday, citing Iraqi Prime Minister Haidar al-Abadi.
Calling al-Baghdadi’s survival “a miracle,” al-Abadi said that the ISIS chief, who he said spends most of his time in Syria, had been moved to another location by ISIS after being injured in the airstrike.
The Iraqi leader also said that while ISIS may no longer be a threat to Baghdad, the Iraqi army in its present form cannot confront the Sunni extremist group if the latter continues to recruit thousands of young people from the region, Al Arabiya reported, citing Al-Hayat.
The latest report followed an earlier tweet by Rudaw, an Iraqi news outlet, claiming that al-Baghdadi had been killed by a coalition airstrike in Gwer, a town about 25 miles southwest of the autonomous Kurdish region's capital Erbil.
URGENT: #ISIS leader Abu Bakr al Baghdadi was killed by a coalition airstrike in #Gwer area a few hours ago. Source. #Kurdistan
— Rudaw English (@RudhoeEnglish) January 19, 2015
This is not the first time that the ISIS leader has been reported to be wounded. In November, reports had claimed that al-Baghdadi had been injured in an airstrike in Iraq's Anbar province. However, in a subsequent audio recording released by ISIS, the leader denied reports that he had been wounded or killed.
“Be assured, O Muslims, for your state is good and in the best condition,” al-Baghdadi said, in the recording. “O soldiers of the Islamic State, continue to harvest the soldiers. Erupt volcanoes of jihad everywhere.”
The last time al-Baghdadi made a public appearance was in July, when he appeared in a video shot in Mosul’s Great Mosque. The ISIS leader was shown issuing a call for Muslims to join him to “make jihad,” Ria Novosti reported.