“U.S. warplanes launched airstrikes on what U.S. officials said was a gathering of Islamic State commanders near the militant-held city of Mosul on Friday, in one of the most prominent assaults on the Islamist group’s leadership since the air war started here in August,” reports the Washington Post.
“A spokesman for U.S. Central Command could not confirm whether Islamic State leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi was at the gathering targeted on Friday. The strikes destroyed a convoy of 10 armed trucks, the spokesman, Col. Patrick Ryder, said. According to CENTCOM, the vehicles appeared to be pickups with gun mounts.”
“We cannot confirm if ISIL leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi was among those present” in the convoy destroyed near Mosul, Ryder said, using an alternative acronym for the Islamic State.
“Mosul, a city of roughly 1.5 million people, was seized by Islamic State militants in June. Baghdadi declared an Islamic caliphate from that northern Iraqi city in his first appearance as the group’s leader on July 5,” notes the Post. “Their military victory in Mosul granted the Islamic State command over one of Iraq’s largest cities, where they have imposed a strict version of sharia law on the local population, residents say. Baghdadi, an Iraqi born in Samarra, is said to have been working as an Islamic preacher when the United States invaded Iraq in 2003. He then turned to militancy and was detained by U.S. forces at Camp Bucca for four years. It was there that Baghdadi is believed to have met and trained with al-Qaeda operatives, eventually rising to lead the Islamic State. His militant group controls vast tracts of land that straddle the border between Iraq and Syria….”
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