Iraqi premier warns ISIS weakened, not defeated
Iraqi Prime Minister Adel Abdul Mahdi said Tuesday (April 30th) the "Islamic State of Iraq and Syria" (ISIS) had been militarily weakened but not defeated, AFP reported.
An ISIS propaganda video released Monday with a purported appearance by the group's elusive leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi showed him in what appeared to be a "very simple and isolated" location, Mahdi said on a visit to Berlin.
"One and a half years ago ISIS controlled large areas in Iraq and Syria, and now al-Baghdadi appears in an isolated, unknown location," he said of the world's most wanted man.
"He did not seem to be among his followers like the first time in Mosul," he said, referring to al-Baghdadi’s 2014 video appearance.
After losing its last remaining territory in the Syrian town of al-Baghouz in March, "ISIS has not completely disappeared but suffered painful blows", the Iraqi premier said at a joint press conference with German Chancellor Angela Merkel.
Abdul Mahdi cautioned that ISIS "will try to rebuild trust among its fighters, will try to launch further operations".
"ISIS was broken, but if little cells are left, it could reactivate and resurface and commit painful attacks," he added.
Merkel said the video was a sign that "we will remain occupied for some time to come with the question of how ISIS can finally be defeated".