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30.04.2019 Middle East

IS group leader vows 'long battle' against West in first video in five years

RFI
World AFP / AL-FURQAN MEDIA
APR 30, 2019 MIDDLE EAST

The leader of the Islamic State group, Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, has made his first purported appearance in five years in a propaganda video.

The world's most wanted man was last seen in Mosul in 2014, announcing the birth of IS's much-feared "caliphate" across swathes of Iraq and Syria.

In the video released by the IS Al-Furqan media arm, the man said to be Baghdadi referred to the months of fighting for the group's final redoubt Baghouz, which ended in March.

"The battle for Baghouz is over," he said, sitting cross-legged on a cushion and addressing three men whose faces have been blurred.

He referred to a string of IS defeats, including its self-proclaimed capital in Iraq, Mosul as well as Sirte in Libya.

No surrender
Nevertheless, Baghdadi insisted the jihadists had not "surrendered" territory.

"God ordered us to wage 'jihad.' He did not order us to win," he said.

In a segment in which the man is not on camera, his voice refers to the 21 April Easter attacks in Sri Lanka, which killed 253 people and wounded nearly 500, describing the operations as "vengeance for their brothers in Baghouz."

The man insisted IS's operations against the West were part of a "long battle," and that IS would continue to "take revenge" for members who had been killed.

The United States, which has a $25 million bounty on Baghdadi's head, said it was assessing the authenticity of the video but vowed to keep up the battle against the extremist group.

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