IS leader al-Baghdadi asks his fighters to hold ground in Mosul

IS leader al-Baghdadi asks his fighters to hold ground in Mosul

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ISIS flag

ISIS flag

(CNN) ISIS’ media arm has released audio purportedly featuring its leader, Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, in which he urges fighters not to retreat from an attack on its Iraq stronghold, Mosul.
“Holding your ground in honor is a thousand times better than retreating in disgrace,” he says in the recording, the first released since late 2015.The tape was released by ISIS’ media wing al-Furqan as the battle for Mosul intensifies, with Iraqi troops poised to enter the city.
The voice, which CNN cannot independently verify, says that “God’s enemies from the Jews, Christians, atheists, Shiites, Apostates and all of the world’s infidels have dedicated their media, money, army and munitions to fight Muslims and Jihadists in the State of Nineveh after they witnessed it become one of the bases of Islam and one of its minarets under the Caliphate,” he said.
Ninevah is an archaic name for the modern day Mosul region.
The audio is nearly 32 minutes long.
The leader of the brutal Islamist group first came into the public eye with a sermon delivered at the Great Mosque of al-Nuri in Mosul in July 2014.
The United States “has no reason to doubt” the authenticity of a video that purports to show ISIS leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi delivering a sermon at the Great Mosque of al-Nuri in Mosul, two U.S. officials said.
While the United States cannot absolutely guarantee it is the notoriously elusive leader of the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria, the working assumption by the government is that it is him, according to the officials who spoke on condition of anonymity.
If it is al-Baghdadi, it may just reveal how comfortable the ISIS leader is after his fighters took control of Iraq’s second-largest city.
“Iraqi agencies are still investigating the video and comparing it with its intelligence,” Iraq’s military spokesman, Lt. Gen. Qassim Atta, said on Monday.
ISIS, an al Qaeda splinter group, has seized large areas of northern and western Iraq in an offensive that began last month.
Al-Baghdadi is known to the United States as Ibrahim Awad Ibrahim Al Badry. He was taken into custody in Fallujah in the Anbar province on February 4, 2004, according to a Pentagon statement.
There have been mixed reports about when and why he was detained. He was held until the following December at a a prison at Camp Bucca, according to the Pentagon. A review board recommended his “unconditional release,” the statement said.
While the Pentagon said al-Baghdadi was from Fallujah, other reports have said he is from Samarra, north of Baghdad. – CNN

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