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ISIS leader al-Baghdadi releases video to clear death rumours


The Islamic State militant group on Thursday released what appeared to be a rare recording of its cloistered leader, Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, vowing to continue his group's fight in Iraq and Syria as its self-proclaimed caliphate there crumbles.

The last public recording of Baghdadi was released in November, the New York Times reports.

Suffering downfall for months now, ISIS has been steadily losing territory recently in Iraq and Syria. US-backed Iraqi forces have since defeated IS in Mosul.

The loss of Mosul was a symbolic blow to the Islamic State, which is also known as ISIS. "While we have no reason to doubt its authenticity, we do not have verification at this point", he said.

Kurdish Peshmerga fighters have backed off the campaign against ISIS since the overwhelming "Yes" vote in the non-binding independence referendum in the Kurdish region of northern Iraq, a USA military spokesman said Wednesday.

Though the recording is undated, al-Baghdadi mentions not only the fall of Mosul, but current events such as the US-North Korea crisis and tensions surrounding the independence referendum in Iraqi Kurdistan.

If true, it would be the first communication from the reclusive militant leader in almost a year.

Global coalition forces led by the USA and the liberation forces have made significant progress in the liberation from the control of the terrorist group "Islamic state" (ISIS) peaceful settlements in most of the territory in Iraq and Syria.

"The Americans and the Russians and the Europeans now live in terror in their countries", al-Baghdadi says in the recording. However, the lack of specific details has made it hard to determine the actual date it might have been recorded.

Iraqi and Syrian Kurdish groups have been one of the primary military forces fighting against ISIS on the ground with United States support, even as Turkey has expressed its displeasure.

Scholar Hassan Hassan, who has written a book about the rise of ISIS, said in a tweet that a key theme of Baghdadi's speech was that he sees ISIS's fight as a "ceaseless war of attrition to deplete enemies".

Airwars, a non-government group monitoring air strikes and civilian deaths in the Middle East estimates close to 5500 civillians have died in coalition air strikes in Iraq and Syria.

In July, ISIS lost Mosul in Iraq, which had been the largest city it controlled.

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