IS leader ‘hiding’ in Syria after Iraq’s cross-border raids

Islamic State leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi is hiding in eastern Syria and moving discreetly with four or five people including his son and son-in-law, AFP reports citing an Iraqi intelligence official on Wednesday. Baghdadi was in Hajin, Shaddadi, Suwar and Markadah areas. He avoids travelling in a convoy after Iraqi forces captured five top IS commanders in a cross-border raid on March 24. All the five had featured in IS execution videos when the group ruled over vast swathes of Iraq, the official said. One of them allegedly confessed to Iraqi forces that he had supplied IS with arms stolen from the Syrian army. Baghdadi may also be concerned by the fact that 39 IS fighters were killed in cross-border air raids by Iraqi forces over the past few weeks. Earlier, conflicting reports kept emerging on the fate of the IS leader. In February this year, Iraq said Baghdadi was being treated at a field hospital for wounds sustained in an air strike. Last year in May, Russia said Baghdadi may have died in an air raid near Raqa in Syria. In September, an American military chief said the jihadist chief was still alive and probably hiding in eastern Syria’s Euphrates Valley.