Al-Quds Al-Arabi newspaper quoted sources as saying that the Islamic State (IS) chief Abu Bakir al-Baghdadi is still alive and is residing in a countryside of the Syrian city of Deir al-Zour.
The newspaper said that the recent reports about Baghdadi’s death confused him with another leader of the organization who was killed near the Syrian-Iraqi border.
“Baghdadi is likely to be hiding in the villages between al-Bu Kamal and al-Mayadin areas in the vicinity of Deir al-Zour in northern Syria near the Iraqi border, an area where most of the organization’s leaders have sought refuge in after territorial losses in Iraq and Syria.
The sources also said that al-Baghdadi is still leading the organization although his meeting with the group’s leaders has become difficult, especially after senior Iraqi leaders who were close to him were eliminated.
According to sources, al-Baghdadi fled Mosul to al-Baaj town in west of Mosul a few months ago, and later crossed the Syrian border and arrived in a village in Deir al-Zour.
Russia claimed earlier in June that Baghdadi was killed in an air strike conducted by the Russian jets near Raqqa, the IS stronghold in Syria. However, the news remained unconfirmed.