|Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi.|
Iraqi officials said Sunday that the head of the Islamic State group, Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, was wounded in an airstrike in western Anbar province. Pentagon officials said they had no immediate information on such an attack or on the militant leader being injured.
Iraq's Defence and Interior ministries both issued statements saying al-Baghdadi had been wounded, without elaborating, and the news was broadcast on state-run television Sunday night.
The reports came at a time when President Barack Obama said the U.S.-led coalition was in a position to start going on the offensive against the Islamic State militants.
Al-Baghdadi, believed to be in his early 40s, has a $10 million U.S. bounty on his head. Since taking the reins of the group in 2010, he has transformed it from a local branch of al-Qaida into an independent transnational military force.
He has positioned himself as perhaps the pre-eminent figure in the global jihadi community. His forces have seized large parts of Syria and Iraq, killed thousands of people, beheaded Westerners and drawn the U.S. troops and warplanes back into the region, where Washington is leading a campaign of airstrikes by a multinational coalition.
An Interior Ministry intelligence official told The Associated Press that al-Baghdadi was wounded by an Iraqi airstrike that came during a meeting Saturday with militants in the town of Qaim.