A Hezbollah-run news outlet said on Friday that Islamic State leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi was reported present in the Syrian town of Albu Kamal during the Syrian army and its allies’ operation to clear it.
The report, carried by a military news service run by Hezbollah, did not say if Baghdadi was captured in the town, which the Syrian army and its allies said they had taken this week.
Syria’s army declared victory over Islamic State on Thursday, saying its capture of the jihadists’ last town in the country marked the collapse of their three-year, hardline reign in the region.
The capture of Albu Kamal, a border town on the Iraqi border and Islamic State’s last stronghold in Syria, sealed “the fall of the terrorist Daesh organisation’s project in the region”, an army statement said on Thursday, using an Arabic term for Islamic State.
An audio message purported to be from Baghdadi was released in September. Baghdadi declared himself caliph and heir to Islam’s historic leaders from the great medieval mosque in Iraq’s Mosul in 2014.