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Daesh leader Baghdadi almost certainly alive — Kurdish security official

(FILES) This file photo shows an image grab taken from a propaganda video released on July 5, 2014 by al-Furqan Media allegedly showing the leader of the Islamic State (IS) jihadist group, Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, aka Caliph Ibrahim, adressing Muslim worshippers at a mosque in the militant-held northern Iraqi city of Mosul. The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights war monitor said on July 11, 2017 it had information from top Islamic State group leaders confirming the death of the jihadist organisation's chief Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi. (AFP)
IRAQ: A top Kurdish counter-terrorism official said on Monday he was 99 percent sure that Daesh leader Abu Bakr Al-Baghdadi was alive and located south of the Syrian city of Raqqa, after reports that he had been killed.
“Baghdadi is definitely alive. He is not dead. We have information that he is alive. We believe 99 percent he is alive,” Lahur Talabany told Reuters in an interview.
“Don’t forget his roots go back to Al-Qaeda days in Iraq. He was hiding from security services. He knows what he is doing.”
Iraqi security forces have ended three years of Daesh rule in the Iraqi city of Mosul, and the group is under growing pressure in Raqqa — both strongholds in the militants’ crumbling self-proclaimed caliphate.
Still, Talabany said Daesh was shifting tactics despite low morale and it would take three or four years to eliminate the group.
After defeat, Daesh would wage an insurgency and resemble Al-Qaeda on “steroids,” he said.
The future leaders of Daesh were expected to be intelligence officers who served under former Iraqi dictator Saddam Hussein, the men credited with devising the group’s strategy.

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