Reclusive Islamic State (Daesh) leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi has been recuperating for weeks from serious injuries sustained as a result of a March air strike in western Iraq, the British newspaper Guardian is reporting on Tuesday.
The daily cited an Iraqi source as saying that Baghdadi’s injuries were initially so severe that it forced him to relinquish day-to-day control of ISIS.
The Guardian reported that the ISIS high command was so concerned about their leader’s condition that they began making contingency plans in the event that al-Baghdadi would die.
The ISIS leader was seriously wounded by an attack launched by the US-led coalition in the al-Baaja district of Nineveh, close to the Syrian border.
Iraqi Defense Minister Khaled al-Abadi confirmed this past November on his Facebook account that al-Baghdadi was injured by a US airstrike near Mosul. 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 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 ten vehicles was carrying leaders of Islamic State, an al-Qaida offshoot which controls large chunks of Iraq and Syria.
The convoy consisted of ten 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 airstrike.
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.
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