The leader of the Islamic State has left his commanders in charge of the battle of Mosul and is now in hiding, according to US and Iraqi officials.
Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi -who declared himself “Ruler of all Muslims” from Mosul’s Great Mosque- has reportedly fled the battlespace surrounding Mosul, with coalition intelligence forces suggesting that the leader has abandoned the city, a theory that jibes with ISIS’ absence of official communication with group leadership and shrinking territory.
While intelligence sources have tried to maintain a lock on al-Baghdadi, he has proved an elusive target that rarely uses trackable communication methods and is on the move several times a day.
It is suggested that al-Baghdadi is currently hiding in rural villages sympathetic to the ISIS cause, rather than with his troops in urban combat zones.
While the Islamic State previously ruled over millions of people ranging from Syria to the outskirts of Baghdad, US-backed forces have pushed the dwindling terror state to a few concentrated areas within the two respective countries.
For intelligence sources, the proof is in the posts: as al-Baghdadi and his leadership caste become more isolated, their quantity of social media postings takes a sharp drop.
“The game is up,” US Air Force Brigadier General Matthew Isler told Reuters, noting that ISIS fighters are trying to flee the city. Those who remain behind are reportedly putting up a “very hard fight,” albeit a disjointed effort by stragglers who remain loyal to the “caliphate.”
“They have lost this fight and what you’re seeing is a delaying action,” Isler said.
According to Anti-ISIS coalition deputy commander Major General Rupert Jones, the ISIS leadership -in light of a crumbling army- is merely trying to stay alive at this point.
“The inevitability of their destruction just becomes really a matter of time,” he said.
Until then, sources say, al-Baghdadi (whose real name is Ibrahim al-Samarrai) continues to scurry around in a patch of desert north of the Euphrates.
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