Islamic State group jihadists have recaptured almost all of Albu Kamal, putting up a fierce fightback for what had been the last significant Syrian town under their control, a monitor said Saturday.
The military unit did not say what had happened to Baghdadi, give further details or identify its sources. The report on Friday did not elaborate on how the soldiers heard about al-Baghdadi or what they were doing about the information.
Iraqi forces yesterday launched an offensive to retake the last pocket of territory in the country still held by the Islamic State group, the operation's commander said.
IS is putting up a fierce defence there, particularly for Albu Kamal, said the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights monitoring group.
The whereabouts of al-Baghdadi are not known and if he is killed or captured it would be another blow for the organization that has lost more than 90 per cent of lands it once controlled in Iraq and Syria where the group declared a caliphate in June 2014.
Rawa is the last town still held by IS apart from Albu Kamal, Al-Qaim's twin town just across the Syrian border where the jihadists were still battling Damascus troops and allied forces yesterday after mounting a surprise counterattack late Thursday.
Two Iraqi infantry divisions and Sunni tribal forces are participating in the operation to recapture the small town of Rawa and its surrounding areas along the border with Syria in Anbar province, according to the Joint Operation Command statement.