ISIS chief Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi has acknowledged the group’s defeat in Iraq in a ‘farewell speech’ and ordered his non-Arab fighters to either return to their countries or detonate themselves, according to media reports.
Baghdadi, who had declared himself as Caliph, issued a statement titled ‘farewell speech’ which was distributed among ISIS’ preachers and clerics on Tuesday, as Iraqi army tightened noose around the group’s last remaining territory in Mosul, Al-Arabiya reported, quoting Iraqi TV network Alsumaria.
Citing the sources in the Iraqi governorate of Nineveh, the report said Baghdadi ordered the closure of the ISIS office regulating the group’s fighters and asked the group’s non-Arab fighters to either return to their countries or detonate themselves, promising them “72 women in heaven.”
Baghdadi, who has reportedly been wounded multiple times, carries a $10 million bounty on his head. It is not clear if he is in the besieged city, where he declared his Caliphate in 2014 after the ISIS seized territory covering much of eastern Syria and northern Iraq.
Many of ISISI’s leaders in Iraq have now fled towards the area controlled by the group in neighbouring Syria, it added. Iraqi forces backed by international and US aid launched a massive operation to retake Mosul on 17 October. In January, they captured the eastern side of Mosul—the last IS-held city in Iraq.
Baghdadi, the so-called caliph of the IS, has not been seen in public for long. There have been several reports of him being killed or injured in air strikes or attacks but he has usually emerged with an audio message or statement after such reports.
US-backed Iraqi forces advancing in western Mosul fought off a counter-attack by the militants during bad weather in the early hours of Thursday, officials said.
Some militants were able to get near elite Iraqi units in southwestern Mosul, hidden among people displaced by the fighting, Reuters reported.
Iraqi forces captured eastern Mosul in January after 100 days of fighting and launched their attack on districts that lie west of the Tigris river on February 19.
Defeating the IS in Mosul would crush the Iraqi wing of the caliphate declared by Baghdadi in 2014.
It was always pointed out by several intelligence agencies across the world that the fall of the IS in Iraq or Syria could lead to attacks in other parts of the world. The ‘in the name of the IS’, concept has been doing the rounds for long. The IS was well-aware that it cannot battle the international forces in Iraq or Syria.