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International

Isis releases new recording of leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi

13:00, Friday, 29 September, 2017
Isis releases new recording of leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi

Islamic State has released an audio recording of its leader, Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, that appears to postdate the latest rumours of his death, in which he accuses the US of wilting in the face of Russia and lacking “the will to fight”.
     The 46-minute tape, released on Thursday, was the first from the reclusive Baghdadi in nearly 10 months, and gave several clues that suggest Iranian and Russian claims that he was killed in May were incorrect.
     In the tape Baghdadi refers to the “nearly year-long fight for Mosul”, from which Isis was ousted in August after nearly 10 months of fighting. He also referenced fights for Hama in Syria, where a push in recent weeks by Iranian-led militias has ousted the terror group from much of its stronghold in countryside to the east of Syria’s third city.
     He also referred to North Korean “nuclear threats to America” and “Russia taking control” of the Astana peace process between the Syrian opposition and regime. Both matters have been headline news throughout the year, but the North Korean standoff has been particularly potent in recent weeks.
     “The fighters in Mosul refused to surrender the city at the cost of their flesh and blood,” said Baghdadi. “Only after a year of fighting.”
     Addressing people in Syria, where an armed opposition has all but lost the civil war against the Iranian- and Russian-backed Assad regime, he said: “What have you benefited from your pact with your supporters other than truces with [Shias]? Turkey and the [Awakening Movement] will give you nothing. If it was not for us, you would be worse off.”
     Baghdadi’s whereabouts have been the subject of intense speculation throughout the past three years, during which time Isis rampaged through large parts of Iraq and Syria. He made one public appearance, in July 2014, when he climbed the minbar, or pulpit, of the Grand Mosque of al-Nuri in Mosul to anoint himself as leader of a new caliphate.

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