The Pentagon could not confirm on Monday new reports that the leader of the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria (ISIS) is still alive, following reports of his death last week.
A top Kurdish counterterrorism official told Reuters on Monday that he was 99 percent sure that ISIS leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi was alive and south of Raqqa in Syria.
“Baghdadi is definitely alive. He is not dead. We have information that he is alive,” Lahur Talabany told Reuters.
But Pentagon spokesman Jeff Davis told reporters that it has “no information one way or the other about Baghdadi’s whereabouts or his status.”
The monitoring group Syrian Observatory for Human Rights last week claimed to have verified his death.
“Obviously we consider him somebody who we would like to see dead as the leader of ISIS, but we don’t have anything one way or the other,” Davis said.
Davis added that regardless of whether he’s dead, al-Baghdadi is “already largely irrelevant because he’s not involved in any day-to-day decision making or command or control that we can see.”
From a psychological standpoint, however, “we certainly agree he’s better off dead than alive.”