US says Islamic State chief alive, still leading

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WASHINGTON: The Pentagon said Friday it believes that Islamic State chief Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi is indeed alive, despite repeated efforts by the US-led coalition to take out the jihadist group leader. Baghdadi has kept a low profile, despite having declared himself the leader of a renewed Muslim caliphate, but last month released a defiant audio message urging his supporters to defend the northern Iraqi city of Mosul. It is not clear if he is in the besieged city, where he declared his caliphate in 2014 after the IS group seized territory covering much of eastern Syria and northern Iraq. Pentagon Spokesman Peter Cook told CNN that they think Baghdadi is still alive and they are “doing everything we can to track his movement.” Cook suggested that Baghdadi is isolated because coalition raids have killed many IS leaders. “He’s having a hard time finding advisers and confidants to speak with because a lot of them are no longer with us,” the spokesman said.

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AFP

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