Iraqi Prime Minister Adel Abdel Mahdi on Tuesday warned that the Islamic State (IS) terrorist group had been weakened but not defeated.
Notably, Mahdi is on a visit to Berlin. At a joint press conference with German Chancellor Angela Merkel, the Iraqi Prime Minister said, “An IS propaganda video released on Monday with a purported appearance by the jihadist group's elusive supremo Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi showed him in what appeared to be a very simple and isolated location.”
"One and a half years ago Daesh controlled large areas in Iraq and Syria, and now Baghdadi appears in an isolated, unknown location," Mahdi added. "He did not seem to be among his followers like the first time in Mosul", he said, referring to a 2014 video in which Baghdadi announced the birth of IS's much-feared caliphate across swathes of Iraq and Syria.
"IS has not completely disappeared but suffered painful blows", the Iraqi PM also added. Mahdi further cautioned that IS group will try to rebuild trust among its fighters and will also to launch further operations like the Sri Lanka April 21 attacks which killed more than 250 people.
"Daesh was broken, but if little cells are left, it could reactivate and resurface and commit painful attacks," he concluded.
German Chancellor Angela Merkel, on the other hand, said the video was a sign that we will remain occupied for some time to come with the question of how IS can finally be defeated.
In the 18-minute video from the Al Furqan network, a bearded man with Baghdadi's appearance says the bombings in Sri Lanka were Islamic State's response to losses in its last territorial stronghold of Baghouz in Syria.
It is to be noted that the video would be the first from Baghdadi since he was filmed in the Iraqi city of Mosul in 2014. More recent speeches have been released as audio recordings. A US-backed campaign ended Islamic State's control of territory in Iraq in late 2017 and in Syria last month, nearly five years after the group took over vast areas in both countries.
(With inputs from PTI)