US commander: IS leader al-Baghdadi probably still alive

WASHINGTON (AP) — The U.S. commander of forces fighting the Islamic State group in Iraq and Syria believes the militants’ top leader is still alive. That’s contrary to Russia’s claims that it probably killed him in an airstrike.

Army Lt. Gen. Stephen Townsend tells reporters he’s seen “some indicators in intelligence channels” that Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi is alive. He did not elaborate.

Russian officials claimed in June there was a “high probability” that al-Baghdadi had died in a Russian airstrike on the outskirts of Raqqa, Syria, in May.

Townsend spoke to reporters at the Pentagon from his headquarters in Baghdad. He says U.S. forces are actively searching for Baghdadi. He says if they find him, they probably will kill him rather than capture him.

(Copyright (c) 2018 The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.)