US can’t confirm al-Baghdadi death reports
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US can’t confirm al-Baghdadi death reports

Despite monitor group's claim that Islamic State leader dead, US general heading fight says 'I don't have a clue'

Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi delivering a sermon at Mosul's al-Nuri mosque in Iraq during his supposed first public appearance, July 5, 2014. (AP Photo/Militant video, File)
Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi delivering a sermon at Mosul's al-Nuri mosque in Iraq during his supposed first public appearance, July 5, 2014. (AP Photo/Militant video, File)

WASHINGTON, United States — The US general who heads the coalition fighting the Islamic State group said Tuesday he had no information that would confirm or deny claims the jihadists’ leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi is dead.

Lieutenant General Stephen Townsend said he had heard “all kinds of reporting” about al-Baghdadi’s status.

“I don’t have a clue,” Townsend said in a video call from Baghdad.

“Hope he’s deader than a doornail. And if he’s not, as soon as we find out where he is he will be.

This photo shows Lieutenant General Stephen Townsend, commander of the US-led operation against the Islamic State (IS) group, in the Iraqi capital Baghdad, on February 20, 2017 (AFP PHOTO / Thomas WATKINS)
This photo shows Lieutenant General Stephen Townsend, commander of the US-led operation against the Islamic State (IS) group, in the Iraqi capital Baghdad, on February 20, 2017 (AFP PHOTO / Thomas WATKINS)

The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, a longtime monitor of the country’s conflict, said earlier Tuesday it had information from top IS leaders confirming al-Baghdadi’s death.

The report could not be independently verified and al-Baghdadi has been reported dead several times.

But if confirmed, his death would mark another devastating blow to the jihadist group after its loss of Mosul, which Iraqi Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi said Monday had been retaken from IS after a grueling months-long campaign.

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