Men ride a motorbike past cars, in line at a gasoline station, waiting to fuel up in Aleppo, Syria. Omar Sanadiki / Reuters
The elusive chief of the Daesh group Abu Bakr Al Baghdadi has purportedly appeared for the first time in five years in a propaganda video released Monday by the extremist organisation.
It is unclear when the footage was filmed, but the man said to be Baghdadi referred in the past tense to the months-long fight for Baghouz, Daesh's final bastion in eastern Syria, which ended last month.
"The battle for Baghouz is over," the man said, sitting cross-legged on a cushion and addressing three men whose faces have been blurred.
But he insisted that Daesh's operations against the West were part of a "long battle," and that Daesh would "take revenge" on members who had been killed.
"There will be more to come after this battle," he said.
Baghdadi, 47, had a long grey beard that appeared dyed with henna and spoke slowly, often pausing for several seconds in the middle of his sentences.
He appeared for the first and last time in public in Mosul in 2014, where he declared an Islamic "caliphate" in the swathes of territory IS then held in Syria and Iraq.
He was reported killed or injured multiple times since then.
His last voice recording to his supporters was released in August, eight months after Iraq announced it had defeated IS and as US-backed forces closed in next door in Syria.
The blast also killed four civilians and wounded three members of the Kurdish-led internal security forces known as the Asayish, the source said.
Three of the men have been convicted of Daesh membership and sentenced to death by Iraqi courts, while five have been given life sentences. Four of them told Reuters they were tortured in prison, a claim Reuters was unable to verify.
Seven of them were killed in the village of Sarja, which lies in Idlib province, most of which is controlled by Hayat Tahrir Al Sham, a group dominated by former members of Al Qaeda's Syria affiliate.
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Medics said 145 people were wounded in the latest clashes, taking the casualty toll to more than 530 in two days