Cairo: As Iraqi forces are trying to recapture West Mosul, Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIS) chief Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi has admitted the terror group’s defeat in Iraq, according to media reports.
In a ‘farewell speech’, Baghdadi, who had declared himself as Caliph, has ordered his non-Arab fighters to either return to their countries or detonate themselves.
Quoting Iraqi TV network Alsumaria, Al-Arabiya reported that Baghdadi issued a statement titled ‘farewell speech’ which was distributed among ISIS’ preachers and clerics on Tuesday.
Notably, Iraqi forces have tightened the noose around the group’s last remaining territory in Mosul.
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 USD 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 ISIS’ leaders in Iraq have now fled towards the area controlled by the group in neighbouring Syria, it added.
IS overran large areas north and west of Baghdad in 2014, but Iraqi forces backed by US-led coalition airstrikes and other support have since regained much of the ground they lost.
Iraqi forces launched a massive operation to retake Mosul — the last IS-held city in the country — on October 17, first recapturing its east before setting their sights on the smaller but more densely populated west.
West Mosul’s recapture would mark the effective end of the cross-border “caliphate” leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi announced from a mosque in the city more than two years ago.
(With Agency inputs)