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  1. ITV Report

IS leader al-Baghdadi 'probably still alive' claims US army commander in Iraq

Al-Baghdadi, seen here in 2014, may still be alive Credit: AP

The leader of the so-called Islamic State terror group, Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, is still alive, according to the the US commander of coalition forces in Iraq.

Speaking to reporters, Lieutenant General Stephen Townsend said "Do I believe he's alive? Yes," referring to al-Baghdadi.

He said he had seen "some indicators in intelligence channels" that al-Baghdadi is alive, but gave no further details.

His claim contradicts Moscow's assertion that al-Baghdadi was killed in a Russian air strike.

Russian officials said in June there was a "high probability" that al-Baghdadi had been killed alongside other senior militants just outside Raqqa, the group's de facto capital in Syria.

Townsend said there were indications al-Baghdadi was still alive Credit: AP

Townsend was speaking to reporters at the Pentagon from his headquarters in Baghdad.

He said US forces are actively searching for al-Baghdadi, adding that if they find him they probably will kill him rather than capture him.

Townsend said it was likely al-Baghdadi is hiding in the so-called Middle Euphrates River Valley, which stretches from about the city of Deir el-Zour in eastern Syria to the town of Rawa in western Iraq.

He said the area is shaping up to be the group's "last stand" following its ouster from nearly all of northern Iraq.