Al-Baghdadi injured, says report; Daesh dealt blow in Syrian battle

Abu Bakr Al-Baghdadi. (AP)
Updated 10 June 2016

Al-Baghdadi injured, says report; Daesh dealt blow in Syrian battle

BAGHDAD: The US-led coalition fighting Daesh said on Friday it could not confirm a report by an Iraqi TV channel that the terror group’s leader Abu Bakr Al-Baghdadi has been wounded in airstrikes.
A spokesman of the coalition, Col. Chris Garver, said in an e-mail that he had seen the reports but had “nothing to confirm this at this time.”
Al Sumariya TV cited local sources in Iraq’s Nineveh province that Al-Baghdadi and other Daesh leaders were wounded on Thursday in a coalition airstrike on one of the group’s command headquarters close to the Syrian border.
Meanwhile, in Libya, the battle for Sirte, the Daesh group’s stronghold in Libya, raged Thursday after unity government forces pushed into the center of the city and predicted it could fall within days.
The US welcomed the advance on Sirte, the hometown of ousted dictator Muammar Qaddafi, which has also been in the sights of forces of a rival authority in eastern Libya.
The loss of Sirte would amount to a huge setback for Daesh, which is also faced with battlefield losses in Syria and Iraq.
“The armed forces entered Sirte. They are currently in the center, where clashes continue with Daesh,” said Mohamad Ghassri, spokesman for the forces of the UN-backed Government of National Accord (GNA).
“The operation will not last much longer. I think we’ll be able to announce the liberation of Sirte in two or three days,” he told AFP.
Brett McGurk, US President Barack Obama’s special envoy to the international coalition fighting Daesh, confirmed the advance.
“GNA aligned forces now making rapid advances against Daesh in Libya and beginning to enter its stronghold in Sirte,” he tweeted.
A US Defense Department spokesman welcomed the advance.
“We certainly are encouraged by the progress we see those government forces making,” Pentagon press secretary Peter Cook said.
“The fact that they are now under pressure in Libya... we think is a good thing and suggests that the Government of National Accord and the forces supporting that government are making progress.”
Aziz Issa, a hospital spokesman in Misrata, east of Tripoli, said 115 fighters had been killed and 300 wounded in the anti-Daesh assault since mid-May.
“Our forces control the entire coast of Sirte. They (Daesh men) will not be able to flee by sea,” he told AFP.
Naval forces had supported the offensive, he said, including by “carrying out operations to open the way for ground forces to advance along the coast.”
Analysts have advised caution over the decline of the Daesh group.
“Soon Daesh will be driven out of Sirte. However, that definitely would not be the end of the group in Libya,” said Mohamed Eljareh of the Rafik Hariri Center for the Middle East.
“If Daesh is defeated in Sirte, we expect an increase in attacks against oil installations to the south and also in the cities of Misrata and Tripoli.”


Russia strikes kill 34 Turkey-backed rebels in Syria

Updated 26 October 2020

Russia strikes kill 34 Turkey-backed rebels in Syria

  • Russian warplanes also wounded dozens more when they targeted a training camp of the Faylaq Al-Sham faction in the Jabal Duwayli area in Idlib province

BEIRUT: Air strikes by Syrian regime ally Russia killed 34 fighters from a Turkey-backed rebel group in northwest Syria on Monday, a Britain-based war monitor said.
Russian warplanes also wounded dozens more when they targeted a training camp of the Faylaq Al-Sham faction in the Jabal Duwayli area in Idlib province, the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said.