US Deputy National Security Adviser Ben Rhodes has confirmed that recent airstrikes struck some of the leaders of the ISIL terrorist group.
“As you know we did take a strike that successfully hit a number of ISIL vehicles that we assess was associated with ISIL leadership,” he said on Tuesday.
The United States did not elaborate on whether the airstrike killed the terror group’s leader, Ibrahim al-Samarrai aka Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi.
Washington “cannot confirm his status at this point,” Rhodes stated.
However, Iraqi Defense Minister Khaled al-Obeidi said in a Facebook post that the leader was injured and Musallam al-Turkmani, a top deputy, was killed during the airstrikes.
In addition, local witnesses and government sources confirmed that al-Baghdadi was hurt in the Saturday attack. Two witnesses said the fighters dropped bombs on the town of al-Qaim, next to the Syrian border.
Local government sources also said that an aircraft dropped its payload over a meeting of senior ISIL militants, killing over a dozen of them.
A local hospital reported that it had received a high number of patients from the airstrikes, including al-Baghdadi.
Rhodes noted that the attack aimed to send a message to the terrorists that the US won’t “allow for a safe haven for ISIL and its fighters and its leadership in Iraq or Syria.”
He threatened that if the terrorists move, the US is going to “hit them.”