The Iraqi Army is basing its conclusion on a military assessment following a recent battle it held with ISIS militants in the city of Tel Afar, located just 63km from Mosul.
Abu Bakr al Baghdadi, leader of the infamous militant terror organization Islamic State, is reportedly under siege and is close to being either captured or killed, according to Russian news agency RIA Novosti citing Iraqi military sources Sunday.
It was only two-weeks ago that ISIS gunmen arrived in the city with tanks and jeeps, ready to prevent Iraqi forces from launching an offensive for the territory. Iraqi military sources think the effort was an indication that senior ISIS leaders were in the area, and the battle was designed to buy time for them to escape.
One unidentified Iraqi military officer told RIA Novosti that they believe Baghdadi was among those leaders, but added that they are “not ruling out the possibility that he is in Mosul.”
Local reports claimed earlier this year that Baghdadi was critically wounded in an airstrike launched by Western-forces, keeping the notorious figure from traveling freely in the area.
And earlier this week, Ayad al-Jumaili, believed to be a deputy of Islamic State leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, was killed in an air strike, an Iraqi intelligence spokesman said on Saturday.
The US-led anti-Islamic State coalition said it was unable at the moment to confirm the information that was reported earlier in the day by Iraqi state-run TV.
Jumaili was killed with other Islamic State commanders in a strike carried out by the Iraqi air force in the region of al-Qaim, near the border with Syria, a military intelligence spokesman told Reuters.
“The air force’s planes executed with accuracy a strike on the headquarters of Daesh in al-Qaim .. resulting in the killing of Daesh’s second-in-command…Ayad al-Jumaili, alias Abu Yahya, the war minister,” state TV said earlier, citing a statement from the directorate of military intelligence.