US Defense Secretary James Mattis - Press photo
WASHINGTON - 22 July 2017: US Defense Secretary James Mattis and other US officials believe that Daesh leader Abu Bakr al Baghdadi is still alive and has a role in the insurgent group, CBS News reported.
"I think Baghdadi is alive, I think he's alive and I'll believe otherwise when we know we've killed him, but we're going after him," Mattis said Friday. "We assume he is alive."
He went on to say that "for obvious reasons we're trying to track him pretty closely because he's declared war on us, so he's going to reap his reward for it."
Asked whether he thought Baghdadi continues to have a command-and-control role, Mattis said, "I think he is alive, and that means he would have a role to play obviously in an organization that he leads. To define that role, is it operational? Is it strategic? Is it propaganda? Is it spiritual? Is it physical? I can't define it, but until I see his body, I'm going to assume he is alive."
In June, the Russia's Foreign Ministry said there was a "high degree of probability" that Baghdadi had been killed in an airstrike at the end of May.