ISIS leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi is reportedly hiding in the desert after fleeing an attempted coup by fellow militants.
Al-Baghdadi, who has, according to reports, been killed or wounded on a number of occasions, is believed to have survived the coup attempt and has placed a bounty on the head of the fighter behind the failed plot.
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Following the firefight, the jihadist group offered a reward for anyone who kills Abu Muath al-Jazairi, a senior member of ISIS in the area.
‘They got wind of it just in time,’ an intelligence official told the Guardian. ‘There was a clash and two people were killed. This was the foreign fighter element, some of his most trusted people.’
The region, near the Euphrates River valley, is the last of the terrorist group’s territory in Syria.
After years of fighting, there are just 500 militants left, down from a peak of at least 70,000 in 2015.
Baghdadi has not been seen publicly since mid-2014, when he declared himself to be the leader of the so-called caliphate in the al-Nuri mosque in Mosul.
The news comes after he reportedly issued an order to kill 320 of his followers for their ‘betrayal’ of ISIS and their ‘recklessness’ which ‘inflicted heavy losses on the group in both Iraq and Syria’ back in October 2018.
High-profile commanders said to be on the hit list include Abu al-Baraa al-Ansari, Sief al-Din al-Iraqi, Abu Otham al-Tal Afari, Abu Iman al-Mowahed and Marawan Hadid al-Suri.
Isis fighters have been fleeing the area to surrender themselves to Kurdish-led forces near Deir ez-Zor over the past three weeks.
Intelligence officials believe the diminished group have enough weapons to last at least another month.