Middle East

IS leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi's son 'killed in Syria'

Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi speaks at Mosul's Great Mosque of al-Nuri on 5 July 2014 Image copyright AFP
Image caption Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi proclaimed the IS "caliphate" in Mosul's al-Nuri mosque in July 2014

A son of Islamic State group leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi has been killed in a battle in Syria, IS news outlets say.

Hudhayfah al-Badri died in a "commando operation" against Syrian government and Russian forces at a power plant in Homs province, a Telegram message said.

It gave no further details but included an image of a youth holding a rifle.

The whereabouts of his father - whose real name is Ibrahim Awwad Ibrahim al-Badri - are unknown, but the message implied that he was still alive.

Baghdadi, who has a $25m (£19m) US bounty on his head, has been reported killed or wounded on a number of occasions.

He has not been heard from since September 2017, when he urged supporters to wage attacks against the West and keep fighting in Syria and neighbouring Iraq.

Little is known about IS leader's family, but Hisham al-Hashimi, an expert on jihadism who advises the Iraqi government, reported that Hudhayfah al-Badri was born in the Iraqi city of Samarra in 2000.

In May, Mr Hashimi declared that the "noose" was tightening around Baghdadi after Iraq announced the capture of five senior IS commanders.

Among them was Ismail al-Ithawi, a top aide to Baghdadi. He was reportedly arrested in Turkey in February and extradited to Iraq, where he helped Iraqi intelligence lure the other four commanders into crossing from Syria.

IS has lost much of the territory that once made up the "caliphate" proclaimed by Baghdadi at a mosque in the Iraqi city of Mosul in 2014.

The group now only controls small pockets of territory in Syria, which are being attacked by Syrian pro-government forces and a US-backed alliance of Syrian Kurdish and Arab fighters.

Iraq's government declared victory in its war against IS in December, but its security forces are still carrying out operations against militants based in remote desert areas along the Syrian border.