A bearded man with Islamic State leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi's appearance speaks in this screen grab taken from video released on April 29, 2019. Islamic State Group/Al Furqan Media Network/Reuters TV via REUTERS
CAIRO - 6 June 2019: Chief of Iraqi General Military Intelligence Directorate Saad Mazhar al-Alaq told Sputnik that leader of the Islamic State Abu Bakr Al Baghdady is hiding somewhere on the borders between Iraq and Syria, as reported by Russia Today.
The suspected areas are Homs, the deserts of Anbar, Nineveh’s Baaj and Hatra, Manayef and Al Sakhreyat as well as the shared borders between Iraq, Syria, and Turkey since they have no military presence.
“We were informed that there are (IS) sleeper cells in remote villages and (Iraqi) suburbs. Those were ordered by Abou Bakr al-Baghdady to shave their beards, mingle with civilians and set up hideouts away from the surveillance of security agencies. But, the military intelligence personnel are after them,” Russia Today reported Alaq saying.
The Iraqi military intelligence chief added that IS cannot resume its activities in liberated areas because of the losses it endured in battles with security forces, where the majority of its leaders were killed. The group currently depends on sleeper cells in city centers and desert areas, Alaq stated.
In December 2017, Iraq announced liberating all its territories from IS that occupied two thirds of Iraqi lands declaring an Islamic Caliphate mid-2014. The group had also taken over territories in Syria in addition to oil facilities in both countries. Simultaneously, the group was cleared from its strongholds in Iraq’s Mosul and Syria’s Deir al-Zour by governmental forces.