The leader of Islamic State, Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, has expressed confidence in victory as Iraqi forces entered the city of Mosul where he declared a “caliphate” two years ago.
“This … total war and the great jihad that the Islamic State is fighting today only increases our firm belief, God willing, and our conviction that all this is a prelude to victory,” said a voice purporting to be that of Baghdadi in a recording released on Thursday by the Isis-affiliated al-Furqan media.
“Do not retreat … Holding your ground with honour is a thousand times easier than retreating in shame,” he said in the message, his first since December 2015.
“To all the people of Nineveh, especially the fighters, beware of any weakness in facing your enemy,” Baghdadi said, referring to the northern Iraqi province of which Mosul is the capital. The audio message does not refer to Mosul specifically.
In June 2014, days after jihadist fighters swept across swaths of Iraq, Baghdadi made a rare public appearance in Mosul and announced the creation of an Islamic “state” straddling Iraq and Syria.
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