ISIS releases recording of leader al-Baghdadi

Islamic State released an audio recording of its leader Abu Bakr Al-Baghdadi on Thursday, the first communication from the elusive jihadist leader in nearly year during which the group has lost much of the territory it controlled in Iraq and Syria. In the recording released Thursday, Baghdadi urges his followers in IS to keep fighting and target Western media centers while accusing the United States of lacking "the will to fight".

In June, Russian defence officls had said that there was a "high probability" that Baghdadi died in a Russian airstrike on the outskirts of the Syrian city of Raqqa.

This is al-Baghdadi's first recorded speech since November 2016, and it comes amid growing speculation over his fate.

In July, Moscow said it was struggling to confirm if Baghdadi was dead or alive, a month after reporting his possible demise in an air strike near the ISIS stronghold of Raqa in Syria.


The recording, which has yet to be verified, involved references to recent geopolitical developments, including US tensions with North Korea, in an apparent attempt to dismiss persistent reports that Baghdadi had been killed on the battlefield.

Baghdadi also referenced Western media, saying: "Oh soldiers of Islam in every location, increase blow after blow, and make the media centers of the infidels, and where they wage their intellectual wars, among your targets".

In the recording, the voice purported to be that of Baghdadi called on the jihadis of ISIS to continue the fight despite their loss of Mosul in northwestern Iraq.


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