29 September, 2017
"We are aware of the audio tape purported to be of Abu Bakr Al-Baghdadi and are taking steps to examine it", an intelligence community source said in a statement.
Islamic State leader Abu Bakr Al-Baghdadi exhorted followers on Thursday to stand fast and keep fighting in his first purported audio communication in nearly a year during which his jihadist group lost much of its self-proclaimed "caliphate".
Russian officials said in June that there was a "high probability" that the Islamic State leader had died in an airstrike on the city of Raqqa, the group's de facto Syrian capital.
In July, Moscow said it was struggling to confirm if Baghdadi was dead or alive, a month after reporting his possible demise in an air strike near the ISIS stronghold of Raqa in Syria.
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A new recording released by an ISIS-run media outlet also includes the voice of the 46-year-old is also the first time he has been heard since November 2016, as Iraqi forces backed by the USA moved in on the ISIS stronghold of Mosul.
In the recording, the voice purported to be that of Baghdadi called on the jihadis of ISIS to continue the fight despite their loss of Mosul in northwestern Iraq.
While it's unclear when the recording was made, it appears to have been recently, as Baghdadi references current events, including North Korean nuclear threats against the US, Reuters reports.
The year since his last recording has seen ISIS lose large swaths of territory, including Mosul, that it took over during its rise to global prominence in 2014.