But despite a $25 million bounty on his head, coalition forces tasked with finding him will likely kill on sight, rather than capture him, if he is still alive. The Syrian Human Rights Watch said in early July that Baghdad may have been dead, referring to the leaders of the group in the province of Deir i Zur. "There are also some indicators in intelligence channels that he's alive". There have been reports of him being dead or injured, but only one account, that he was temporarily incapacitated after a strike in March 2015, is thought to have much... "I don't think he's dead", said Townsend, the commander of the counter-IS coalition in Iraq and Syria.
Russian officials claimed in June there was a "high probability" that al-Baghdadi had died in a Russian airstrike on the outskirts of Raqqa, Syria, in May.
As Iraqi Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi declared victory over the terror group in the city of Tal Afar on Thursday, US Lieutenant General Stephen Townsend told reporters that his forces were continuing the search for the elusive figurehead of the militant group, BBC reported. The U.S. -led coalition says it was not a party to the deal.
He has not been seen in public since his appearance at the Grand al-Nuri Mosque in Mosul in 2014, when he proclaimed himself the leader of the "IS caliphate".
He said United States forces are actively searching for al-Baghdadi, adding that if they find him they probably will kill him rather than capture him. "And I think that's probably the most important thing that the government of Iraq has to do". He said such talks are under way.
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In previous briefings, Townsend would not comment on Baghdadi's status.
These claims gained weight when ISIS insiders repeated the claim, and that the group had gone into hiding.
"If he's alive out there somewhere, we're looking for him every day".
"A key result of that is that we don't get second-guessed a lot", he added.