Jabbar al-Maamouri, leader of the Iraqi Popular Mobilization Forces, has told Iraqi media that the Iranian missile strike in Syria earlier this month was aimed in part at liquidating Daesh (ISIS)* leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, and that only his lateness to a meeting of militant commanders saved him from certain death.
"The Iranian shelling against specific pockets of Islamic State east of the Euphrates in Syria using missiles [a] few days ago targeted an important meeting for the so-called Islamic State's war council, to which Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi was on [his] way," al-Maamouri said, according to Iraqi News.
Al-Baghdadi "was about to get killed in the shelling but he survived as he was a few minutes late for the meeting," the Iraqi militia commander added.
The Iranian strikes did succeed in liquidating Ali al-Mashadani, al-Baghdadi's deputy, as well as several other Daesh leaders, according to al-Maamouri.
Iran's Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps launched six surface-to-surface ballistic missiles at terrorists in Syria on Monday in response to the September 22 terrorist attack on a military parade in the southern Iranian city of Ahvaz which left 25 people dead and dozens more injured.
Iran had earlier fired six missiles at a terrorist hideout in Deir ez-Zor province, eliminating 65 Daesh terrorists, including several high-ranking intelligence commanders, in response to a pair of terrorist attacks in the Iranian capital of Tehran earlier this year.
Al-Baghdadi reportedly released an audio message to his followers in August, calling on supporters to "persevere" in the jihad against the terrorist group's enemies after nearly a year of silence. The terrorist group's territorial holdings have dwindled since late 2015 amid efforts by Damascus, Baghdad and their respective allies to destroy its so-called caliphate.
*A terrorist group outlawed in Russia and many other countries.