The head of the US Forces in Iraq and Syria, Lieutenant General Stephen Townsend revealed that he believes the leader of the Islamic State, Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi is still alive. The American military commander emphasized that there were active operations searching for the extreme Muslim leader, while noting that when al-Baghdadi is found, the coalition would seek to kill him, rather than attempting a capture operation. Townsend said, “I’d be happy to capture Baghdadi, I don’t know who wouldn’t. I think I’d be just as equally satisfied just killing him and if he’s alive out there somewhere we’re looking for him every day. I don’t think he’s dead, we’re looking for him every day. When we find him. I think we’ll probably just try to kill him first. Probably, probably not worth all the trouble to try to capture him,” he stressed.
The comments by General Townsend follow several weeks of speculations with regard to the fate of the leader of the Islamic State. Senior military officials noted on several occasions that they are not able to verify multiple reports of his death, but vowed to continue to search for al-Baghdadi until concrete information would be attained in assuring the world is rid of him.