In the midst of ongoing efforts to liberate Mosul, the last bastion of the "Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant" (ISIL) in Iraq, ISIL leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi broke a nearly year-long silence Thursday (November 3rd), urging his followers to hold their ground.
In a 30-minute audio recording aired by social networking sites and media outlets, al-Baghdadi urged his elements in the city not to escape or retreat.
"Do not retreat," al-Baghdadi said in a purported message released by an ISIL-affiliated outlet. "Holding your ground with honour is a thousand times easier than retreating in shame."
"Al-Baghdadi's speech is defeatist in nature," said analyst Fouad Ali who specializes in extremist groups.
"He is trying to make his elements stay in Mosul rather than escape as was the case in other cities," he told Diyaruna.
Al-Baghdadi is aware "that the last city under his control is slipping through his fingers ", he said, adding that "his speech today shows a spirit of defeat, especially as it contained none of the threats or intimidation which he had been known for in all his [previous] speeches".
"This may be his last speech before his death and the end of his organisation," Ali said.
The audio recording was al-Baghdadi's first statement since Iraqi forces launched a massive offensive on October 17th to retake Mosul, where the ISIL chief declared the group's "caliphate" two years ago, according to AFP.
In June 2014, days after extremist fighters swept across swathes of Iraq, he made a rare public appearance in Mosul and announced the creation of an Islamic "state" straddling Iraq and Syria.
The "caliphate" has been shrinking steadily since last year and Iraqi forces earlier this week reached the outskirts of Mosul.