A man purported to be the reclusive leader of the militant Islamic State Abu Bakr al Baghdadi made a rare public appearance at a mosque in the center of Mosul, on July 5, 2014..
(photo credit: REUTERS)
Iraqi Defense Minister Khaled al-Abadi confirmed Sunday night on his Facebook account that Islamic State leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi was injured by a US airstrike near Mosul late Friday night. The post also said Baghdadi's deputy was killed in the attack.
Similarly, Abu Muhammad Al-Adnani, believed to be a spokesman for the Islamic State terror group, confirmed Sunday that Baghdadi was injured by a US airstrike, writing on Twitter:
"Perhaps you suspected that the Caliphate ended with martyrdom of the Caliph. I assure the [Islamic] nation that the Emir Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi is well thank god, and I wish him a speedy recovery."
The fate of Baghdadi was unknown after US air strikes destroyed a convoy of the group near the Iraqi city of Mosul.
Colonel Patrick Ryder, a Central Command spokesman, said the US military had reason to believe that the convoy of 10 vehicles was carrying leaders of Islamic State, an al-Qaida offshoot which controls large chunks of Iraq and Syria.
The convoy consisted of 10 Islamic State armed trucks.
Islamic State had been changing its strategy since the air strikes began, switching to lower profile vehicles to avoid being targeted, according to residents of towns the group holds.
A Mosul morgue official said 50 bodies of Islamic State militants were brought to the facility after the air strike.
Mosul, northern Iraq's biggest city, was overrun on June 10 in an offensive that saw vast parts of Iraq's Sunni regions fall to the Islamic State and allied groups.
A month later a video posted online purported to show the reclusive Baghdadi preaching at Mosul's grand mosque.
Earlier on Saturday, Al-Hadath television channel said US-led air strikes targeted a gathering of Islamic State leaders in a town near the Syrian border, possibly including Baghdadi.
Iraqi security officials were not immediately available for comment on the report from the station, part of Saudi-owned al-Arabiya television, but two witnesses told Reuters an air strike targeted a house where senior Islamic State officers were meeting, near the western Iraqi border town of al-Qaim.
Al-Hadath said dozens of people were killed and wounded in the strike in al-Qaim, and that Baghdadi's fate was unclear.