BAGHDAD — Iraqi security forces claimed Sunday to have struck the convoy of Islamic State group leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi in an air strike near the country’s border with Syria.
“The Iraqi air force carried out a heroic operation targeting the convoy of the criminal terrorist Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi,” Iraq’s security forces said in a joint statement.
“His health status is unknown,” it said.
Iraqi security sources have previously that Baghdadi had been injured or killed in strikes in the past but the claims were either never verified or later denied.
The statement was released by the “war media cell,” a structure which provides updates on the war against IS and speaks for the interior and defense ministries as well as the paramilitary Popular Mobilization forces.
The statement said Iraqi aircraft struck Baghdadi’s convoy as it was “moving towards Karabla to attend a meeting of the Daesh terrorist leaders.”
Daesh is an Arabic acronym for the Islamic State group, which last year proclaimed a caliphate straddling Iraqi and Syria.
Karabla is located on the Euphrates river barely five kilometers (three miles) from the border with Syria. The statement did not make clear when the strike was carried out.
It said the operation was conducted in coordination with Iraq’s interior ministry intelligence services and the joint operation command center that includes military advisers from the US-led coalition.