BAGHDAD (Reuters) - The Iraqi government said on Saturday that a video posted online purporting to show the reclusive leader of the militant group Islamic State praying in the northern city of Mosul was falsified.
Interior Ministry spokesman Brigadier General Saad Maan told Reuters that the footage posted on the Internet on Saturday allegedly showing Abu Bakr el-Baghdadi at Mosul’s grand mosque was “indisputably” not him.
“We have analyzed the footage ... and found it is a farce,” he said.
Maan said government forces had recently wounded Baghdadi in an air strike and that he had been transferred by Islamic State militants to Syria for medical treatment. He declined to give further details and there was no way to confirm the claim independently.
The 21-minute video came after reports on social media that Baghdadi would make his first public appearance since his Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) changed its name to the Islamic State and declared him caliph - a title held by successors of the Prophet Mohammad.
Mosul, northern Iraq’s biggest city, was overrun on June 10 early in an offensive that saw vast parts of Iraq’s majority Sunni regions fall to the Islamic State and allied groups.
The Iraqi government has in the past made claims to have captured wanted Sunni militants only to announce later that the men were still at large.
Reporting by Ahmed Rasheed; Editing by Kevin Liffey