Notorious ISIS leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi is currently hiding in the mountainous area of Abu Rujmayn southeast of the ancient Syrian city of Palmyra, an Iraqi intelligence official revealed on April 27, according to al-Khaleej.
Abu Rujmayn is a part of the Homs desert, which lays between eastern Homs and western Deir Ezzor. The desert is considered the last ISIS stronghold in Syria.
The Iraqi official said that al-Baghdadi, who is currently surrounded by few loyal fighters from Iraq, Tunisia and Saudi Arabia, is trying to enter Iraq.
“The reason al-Baghdadi is planning to enter Iraq is because the number of his supporters in Syria has decreased,” the source said, who claimed that this information was taken from people close to al-Baghdadi, who were arrested recently.
The ISIS leader has failed to cross into Iraq so far due to the strict Syrian and Iraqi security measures in the border area, according to the Iraqi official.
These claims are in line with a recent report of the Asia Times. The report, that was released on March 28, says that al-Baghdadi is currently hiding in the Homs desert, which is besieged by the Syrian Arab Army (SAA) and its allies.
“Certainly he is still alive, he did not participate in any battle and was not close to any battlefield … The ISIS security detail that guards Baghdadi knows that keeping the Caliph alive is more important than maintaining the Caliphate,” Hisham al-Hashemi, a Baghdad-based terrorism expert, told the Asian outlet back then.
Last year, Huthaifah al-Badri, a son of al-Baghdadi, was killed by the SAA, while he was participating in an “Inghimasi” attack in the vicinity of the Homs desert. This further supports the claims of the Iraqi officials and the Asia Times.
If al-Baghdadi is indeed hiding in the Homs desert, he will likely be killed or even captured by the SAA and its allies soon. The army is conducting intense combing operations around the desert currently.