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The Interview

Exclusive: ‘We’re monitoring’ IS group chief, says Iraqi PM

Islamic State (IS) group leader, Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, is isolated and his movements are being monitored, Iraqi Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi told FRANCE 24 in an exclusive interview. But he refused to provide details of the terror chief’s whereabouts.

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Speaking to FRANCE 24 in the Iraqi capital of Baghdad, Abadi said a US-led anti-IS group military operation had “killed and eliminated” most of IS leader’s aides.

“He’s almost alone at the moment. He doesn’t have many people to trust. He is in isolation, we’re monitoring his movements,” said Abadi, adding that the IS group chief is keeping a very low profile. “His communication with other terrorists is very low. In many times, it is almost nonexistent.”

But Abadi refused to be drawn into divulging details of Baghdadi’s whereabouts. When asked if the Iraqi-born leader of the terrorist group was still in the northern Iraqi city of Mosul, Abadi smiled and replied, “I’m not commenting on it.”

As a coalition of US-backed troops battle to dislodge IS fighters from their last holdouts in Mosul, Abadi said the coalition had “almost crushed Daesh militarily,” using the Arabic acronym for the terrorist group.

But the real challenge, he stressed, was not the military fight against the IS group, but stopping its terror operations which have drawn fighters “from almost hundred countries in the world to Syria, to Iraq to fight and to kill innocent civilians.”

Abadi also criticised the travel ban slapped by US President Donald Trump's administration on seven Muslim-majority countries, including Iraq. "There is no right for any country to humiliate other nations," he said.

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