Several media outlets reported on 29 April that the notorious leader of Daesh*, Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, has made his first appearance after five years of absence in a video where he acknowledges the defeat of the terrorist group's fighters in the battle for Baghouz last month.
In the 18 minute video, Baghdadi vowed to avenge the group's killed and imprisoned militants, claiming that Daesh* had already carried out 92 operations in eight countries for this purpose. He namely discussed the recent Sri Lanka bombings that claimed the lives of over 250 people.
The video reportedly indicates that it was filmed earlier in April, but currently there is no way of verifying this information — or the authenticity of the video itself. At the same time, US Army spokesman Col. James Rawlinson told Sputnik that the US-led coalition is working on corroborating the authenticity of the video.
The last time that Baghdadi showed himself to the public was in 2014, when he declared the creation of the so-called "Islamic caliphate" in Iraq and Syria in the al-Nuri mosque in the Iraqi city of Mosul. Since then, he has been proclaimed dead on several occasions, but audio recordings that appeared after these reports cast doubt on the news.
According to the latest reports, Baghdadi was hiding in the Iraqi desert while the remaining Daesh* militants were defending their last sliver land in the eastern Syrian town of Baghouz. They lost the battle last month.
Prior to this, The Guardian reported, citing intelligence sources, that Baghdadi had barely survived an assassination attempt in a village near Hajin, Syria on 10 January 2019 organised by some of his closest foreign fighters.
*Daesh (also known as ISIS/ISIL/IS) is a terrorist organisation banned in Russia