By RFE RL
(RFE/RL) — An Iraqi official said Islamic State group leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi remains alive and is being treated at a hospital in Syria after being wounded in battle.
“We have irrefutable information and documents from sources within the terrorist organization that al-Baghdadi is still alive and hiding” in Syria’s northeastern Jazira region, Iraqi intelligence chief Abu Ali al-Basri was quoted as saying by the government daily Al-Sabah on February 12.
IS retains a significant presence in northeastern Syria’s Hasakeh province despite having lost most of its self-declared “caliphate,” which once covered a third of Iraq and Syria.
Basri said that Baghdadi is suffering from “injuries, diabetes, and fractures to the body and legs that prevent him from walking without assistance.”
The militant chief was wounded in “air raids against IS strongholds in Iraq,” he said.
Iraqi authorities last week published a list of “internationally wanted terrorist leaders,” headed by Baghdadi, a self-proclaimed”caliph” who was born in 1971 under the name Ibrahim Awad Ibrahim Ali al-Badri al-Samarrai.
Last June, Russia said it had probably killed Baghdadi in an air raid near Raqqa, but U.S. officials said they believed the IS chief was still alive and hiding in eastern Syria’s Euphrates River Valley.