ERBIL, Kurdistan Region (Kurdistan 24) – The Secretary General of the Ministry of Peshmerga, General Jabbar Yawar, on Tuesday warned the Islamic State (IS) was capable of launching new attacks while noting the group’s leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi was still alive.
“It is true that IS was defeated in Iraqi cities and towns, and officially in Mosul and Raqqa [in Syria], but the extremist organization has not been completely eliminated and remains a threat,” Yawar told Anadolu news agency.
The Peshmerga Ministry General said the Kurdistan Region’s security forces, as well as the international coalition and Iraqi government, have warned IS may still “carry out attacks in the form of small suicide groups.”
“We have to prepare for similar circumstances and take precautions to defend or prevent these attacks that pose a threat to all of Iraq,” he added.
Yawar pointed out that political stability in Iraq would contribute to the defeat of the extremists, and “eliminate the return of the terrorist group’s activity.”
The Peshmerga Ministry official also said the militant group’s leader Baghdadi may still be alive, noting he had not been seen in public since declaring a caliphate in 2014.
Some reports suggested Baghdadi had been killed in the bombing of IS’ strongholds in Iraq and Syria, but there was no official confirmation.
“We do not exactly know the fate of Baghdadi, but all indications are that he is still alive,” Yawar stated. “According to the international coalition, about 3,000 armed IS militants are still present in both Iraq and Syria.”
The Peshmerga Ministry General added that there were “no details” about Baghdadi’s whereabouts, “but it is certain that he is hiding in a region in Syria or Iraq.”
Meanwhile, Washington has placed a $25 million bounty for any information leading to the capture of one of the world’s most-wanted terrorist.
Despite Iraqi Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi recently announcing a “final victory” over IS in the country, terrorism experts warn the militant group’s threat remains active in the region.