Dubious Reports U.S. Air Strikes in al Qaim Target ISIS Leaders

Update: Via CNN: CENTCOM confirms air strikes hit the convoy near Mosul, and that it was aimed at ISIS leaders. It said it doesn't know whether al Bagdadi was in it. CNN says 15 militants died. CENTCOM would not confirm conducting airstrikes in al Qaim in the Anbar province (not surprising, since according to reports of locals, the strikes hit a market near an ISIS checkpoint killing only civilians.)

Personally, I tend to doubt al Baghdadi travels in a convoy of ten trucks, especially knowing the U.S. is conducting air strikes. Also, as I mention in my original post below, al Qaim is 170 miles from Mosul. These were two separate events, and there's no evidence other than the original dubious report (updated here)that al Baghdadi or his chief deputy or Anbar military commanders were present, taken out or injured.)

Original Post

All day there have been unconfirmed reports of a U.S. airstrike in al Qaim that targeted ISIS leaders and that ISIS leader al-Baghdadi was seriously wounded or killed. [More...]

ISIS members, supporters and news tweeters denied the reports, and have now imposed a self-declared blackout from discussing the reports, claiming the whole thing is an entrapment effort by the U.S. to ferret out information on ISIS leaders and their movements.

Centcom has given two versions of its airstrikes on ISIS today. The Guardian reports in CENTCOM's second statement, it said it struck a 10 truck ISIS convoy 170 miles from Qaim, and that the occupants were connected to a meeting of ISIS leaders.

Confirming the strike on the convoy, Colonel Patrick Ryder, a spokesman at Central Command, said the US military had reason to believe the convoy hit by strikes was the product of a gathering of Isis leaders. The convoy consisted of 10 Isis armed trucks.

Earlier, a US official said air strikes were carried out against the convoy near the northern city of Mosul, about 170 miles from al-Qaim, and against small Isis units elsewhere, but added that US-led strikes had not targeted an Isis gathering.

All reports about al Baghdadi being injured or killed are repeating information from a single news source, the Saudi owned pro-Iraqi Hadath TV and Al-Arabiya, which say tribal sources told them ISIS leader al Baghdadi and his top Anbar commander were among the seriously wounded or dead in a U.S. airstrike at a meeting of ISIS leaders in al Qaim.

Here's a report in English that says ISIS spokesman al-Adnani and ISIS top Anbar commander were also present.

Here's an English report from the Daily Star in Lebanon.

The earlier mentioned Reuters report cited the same sources. Locals told Reuters ISIS cleared a nearby hospital to treat the wounded. Reuters said one U.S. official has denied the report according to Reuters:

One U.S. official said that air strikes were carried out against a convoy near the northern city of Mosul, about 280 km (170 miles) from al-Qaim, and against small Islamic State units elsewhere, but the U.S.-led air strikes had not targeted an Islamic State gathering. ISIS members and supporters on Twitter not only deny al Baghdadi was killed, they say the U.S. struck a market in al Qaim killing civilians.

Curiously, none of the reports identify the supposed ISIS leader or commander in Anbar or his deputy who were allegedly injured or killed along with al-Baghdadi. There were reports last week that Abu Wahib (background here) was in charge of the executions of the Albu Nimr tribal members. But there are also reports that ISIS military commander Chechen Omar al Shishani is now in Anbar leading military events. If either of them were killed, that would be big news.

Bottom line: As of now, the reports as to al Baghdadi are not only unconfirmed, but likely false, and possibly planted by Iraqi officials to see if they could get ISIS members discuss it, and in the process, reveal information about the leaders' movements.

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  • Display: Sort:
    The Forever War.. (none / 0) (#1)
    by desertswine on Sat Nov 08, 2014 at 07:58:48 PM EST
    It kind of fits.

    "The Forever War" (none / 0) (#2)
    by Mr Natural on Sun Nov 09, 2014 at 05:27:08 PM EST
    - sounds almost romantic.

    I would also bet against it being true (none / 0) (#3)
    by Jack203 on Tue Nov 11, 2014 at 09:19:17 PM EST
    This happened a couple months back too.

    Fool me once...

    If true, this and the recent victories against ISIS would be a positive steps to get us out of this war.