US Commander Hopes ISIS Leader Is ‘Deader Than A Doornail,’ But Has No Info On Status

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Saagar Enjeti White House Correspondent
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The U.S. has no current information on ISIS leader Abu Bakr Al-Baghdadi’s whereabouts or whether he is alive or dead despite reports to the contrary, Operation Inherent Resolve commander Lt. Gen. Stephen Townsend told reporters Tuesday.

“We’ve heard all kinds of reporting. Quite honestly, I hope he’s deader than a doornail. As soon as we find out where he is, he will be,” Townsend said. Townsend’s repeated refrain that he had no information to offer came after the Syrian Observatory of Human Rights (SOHR) reported that it “confirmed” the death of the ISIS leader.

“Top-tier commanders from ISIL who are present in Deir az Zor province have confirmed the death of Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, emir of the Islamic State group, to the Observatory,” SOHR director Rami Abdulrahman said Tuesday. Abdulrahman offered no specifics regarding the circumstances of Baghdadi’s death.

The Russian government claimed to have killed Baghdadi in a late May airstrike but has provided no definitive proof. The terrorist group has remained silent on the matter and the U.S. military continues to deny any current information on Baghdadi’s health or whereabouts.

Townsend was repeatedly pressed on the matter at a Pentagon briefing with reporters Tuesday at one point emphatically stating “I don’t have a clue” whether Baghdadi is alive or dead.

“I suppose it doesn’t matter whether he is alive or dead,” Townsend said. “It’d make me feel better.”

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Saagar Enjeti