Friday, 20 October, 2017

Islamic State's Baghdadi, in undated audio, urges militants to keep fighting

In July Moscow said it was struggling to confirm if Baghdadi was dead or alive a month after reporting his possible death in an air strike near the Daesh stronghold of Raqqa in Syria US confirms additional 50 civilian deaths in Iraq, Syria
Christy Curtis | 30 September, 2017, 01:01

The 46-minute recording, which was released in written form shortly afterward in a new issue of ISIS' weekly al-Naba newsletter, spends a lengthy amount of time on the Quran and historical caliphs.

Citing examples of America's perceived weakness, he referred to Russia's annexation of Crimea and "North Korea's nuclear threat against America and Japan".

As with the 2016 recording, this one was released via al-Furqan media.

With a $25m U.S. bounty on his head, al-Baghdadi has kept a low profile and was rumoured to move regularly throughout ISIL-held territory in the area straddling Iraq and Syria.

The RAF's role has included helping Syrian Democratic Forces engaged in ground close combat and the Iraqi Security Forces who continue their advance having liberated Mosul and Ninewah province.

Three years on, the Islamic State, also known as ISIS, is defending a shrinking stretch of territory. "If there's any evidence to point to or say where he is, we may have folks moving in right now". ISIS is trying to hold on to their remaining pockets by trapping civilians to use as human shields, but a US defense official said the SDF has been able to rescue about 300 of those civilians over the past week.

The Iraqis have pushed ISIS from most of Iraq now, and reclaimed important sites, including the ancient Great Mosque of al-Nuri at the end of June.

If true, it would be the first communication from the reclusive militant leader in almost a year.

Russia's army said in June that it was trying to verify whether he had died in a Russian air strike in Syria.

The war they were fighting "only increases our firm belief, God willing, and our conviction that all this is a prelude to victory", said Baghdadi in that recording.

That is an area that straddles Syria's border with Iraq, to which much of the group's leadership is thought to have relocated earlier this year.

"ISIS is on the run, and we must remain focused on delivering a decisive defeat in their few remaining holdouts in Iraq", he added.

The leader of the self-proclaimed terrorist caliphate made his first public appearance in the summer of 2014 when the group was on the advance and capturing territory in Iraq and later in Syria. In the recording, the USA is called a weak state in debt and on the verge of collapse, which has allowed Russian Federation to take control of things and let them "control the areas of Sunni Muslims and grant them to the Alawite regime", a reference to the Syrian government.

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