Islamic State Chief Promises Victory in Purported Audio

Islamic State is still advancing in the face of intensified military action against it, the group’s leader said in a purported audio message released a few days after reports he had been injured or killed.

Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi said the recent campaign against his group has been “one of the toughest so far, but it is one of the most failed ones,” according to an audio message posted on social media networks.

“The Crusader air strikes and continuous bombing day and night on the locations of Islamic State have not stopped its advances,” al-Baghdadi said. “The Crusaders will be defeated and Muslims will be victorious.”

Islamic State has declared a caliphate in areas of Syria and Iraq it has seized, prompting the U.S. to carry out airstrikes against the group in both countries and put together an international coalition to join the fight.

Baghdadi made a reference to U.S. President Barack Obama’s decision last week to send additional personnel to Iraq, and thanked jihadist groups outside Syria and Iraq that have declared allegiance to Islamic State.

There was speculation that al-Baghdadi had been killed or injured when U.S. airstrikes last weekend targeted a meeting of Islamic State leaders near the Iraq-Syria border. Sabah Karhout, the head of the Anbar provincial council in western Iraq, cited reports that al-Baghdadi had been taken to they Syrian city of al-Raqqa, Islamic State’s headquarters, for medical treatment.

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