Iraqi officials said today that an airstrike wounded the leader of the Islamic State group, Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi—but Pentagon officials say they have no immediate information on such a strike or al-Baghdadi being wounded. Iraq's Defense and Interior Ministries issued statements saying al-Baghdadi had been wounded, without elaborating. An Interior Ministry intelligence official tells the AP that al-Baghdadi was hit during a meeting yesterday with militants in the town of Qaim in Iraq's western Anbar province. That official and a senior Iraqi military official say the operation was carried out by Iraqi security forces. (US officials said yesterday that American airstrikes had likely hit ISIS leaders.)
Al-Baghdadi, an ambitious Iraqi militant believed to be in his early 40s, has a $10 million US bounty on his head. Since taking the reins of the group in 2010, he has transformed it from a local branch of al-Qaeda into an independent transnational military force, positioning himself as perhaps the pre-eminent figure in the global jihadi community. Meanwhile, Islamic militants have taken over the Libyan city of Darma, making it the first city outside of Iraq and Syria to join the "caliphate" announced by the Islamic State, the AP reports. Long notorious as Libya's center for jihadi radicals, the city has seen religious courts ordering killings in public, floggings of residents accused of violating Shariah law, as well as enforced segregation of male and female students.