BAGHDAD (Sputnik) — Islamic State (ISIL or Daesh) jihadist group ringleader Abu Bakr Baghdadi escaped an airstrike in the Iraqi campaign to liberate the northern city of Mosul minutes ahead of an attack, local security sources told Sputnik on Monday.
"Baghdadi escaped at the last moment from the airstrike on a meeting among commanders in Mosul," the sources said without clarifying whether the strike was conducted by Iraqi forces or the US-led coalition.
Al-Baghdadi's movements are known only by his inner circle, with the leader constantly changing location in Iraq and Syria to avoid airstrikes.
On late Sunday, Iraqi Prime Minister Haider Abadi announced the start of the military operation to retake Mosul from Daesh terrorists.
On Wednesday, a military-diplomatic source in Moscow told RIA Novosti that the US and Saudi intelligence services agreed to provide the Daesh militants with safe passage to exit Mosul ahead of the assault planned by the international coalition. According to the source, the US-Saudi plan also envisages transportation of several thousand militants from Mosul to the eastern Syria for an offensive against the Syrian government forces in control of Palmyra and Deir ez-Zor.