"There is confirmed evidence that al-Qurashi is in Iraq, and only a narrow circle of IS leadership knows [what] he looks like," the source was quoted as saying by the media outlet.
A joint Iraqi-US team of specialists has been working since February to identify the new Daesh leader, who gained leadership after al-Baghdadi's assassination, the source noted, adding that all previous attempts to identify al-Qurashi were considered by Iraqi intelligence to be untenable.
"The Islamic State carried out a series of attacks during this month and in the last week of March, which indicates that its new leadership was able to provide a channel of communication with the remnants of the group," the source said.
Iraqi security agencies are currently conducting special operations to search for terrorist hideouts, especially in the provinces of Saladin and Kirkuk in the north of the country, as well as in mountainous and desert areas.
In October 2019, the White House announced that al-Baghdadi had been killed in Syria during a special operation undertaken by US troops. US President Donald Trump thanked Russia, Turkey, Syria, Iraq and the Syrian Kurds for their assistance in the operation to eliminate the terrorist group leader.
In January, The Guardian newspaper reported that the new Daesh leader was Amir Mohammed Abdul Rahman al-Mawli al-Salbi, also known by the names Haji Abdullah, and possibly Abdullah Qardash. The United States put a $5 million bounty on Salbi’s head last year after he was pinpointed as a potential replacement for Baghdadi in August 2019, according to the newspaper. Salbi is believed to have led the genocide against the Yazidis in Iraq. According to The Guardian, the new leader of the terrorist group met Baghdadi in 2004.
The Russian Defence Ministry has previously said that there was no reliable data to confirm that Baghdadi had indeed been killed. Since 2014, there have been at least six instances in which different states and non-state actors claimed to have killed Baghdadi.
* Daesh is a terrorist group banned in Russia and many other countries.