ISIS Leader Releases Message Amid Battle for Mosul

Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi encourages loyalists to fight to the death
By Daniel Kay,  Newser Staff
Posted Nov 3, 2016 9:40 AM CDT

ISIS leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi has released a rare message amid a major coalition offensive against Mosul, the last major ISIS stronghold in Iraq. The undated audio recording is al-Baghdadi's first public communication in almost a year, the International Business Times reports. The tape didn't specifically mention the city of Mosul, but it did refer to "Nineveh," the ancient name for the region where the city is located. Security researcher Charlie Winter points out this is a break from other ISIS propaganda, which has heavily emphasized the "Battle of Mosul." The Islamic State leader reminded his loyalists that "holding your ground in honor is a thousand times better than retreating in disgrace."

The first Iraqi forces have actually entered the city and begun the battle to liberate it, reports Reuters. The tape was most likely recorded in the last few weeks, CNN says, because it addresses recent Turkish military actions. "Turkey today entered your range of action and the aim of your jihad," it says. "Invade it and turn its safety into fear." Al-Baghdadi also called for attacks against Saudi Arabia, and told followers who could not reach Iraq or Syria to travel to Libya, the Guardian reports. Al-Baghdadi's current whereabouts are unknown. (More ISIS stories.)

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