By Jamie Schram, Chris Perez and Yaron Steinbuch – nypost.com – 2015-02-10 – The head of ISIS is “frightened” for his life after 7,000 jihadists were slaughtered in airstrikes this weekend, Jordanian officials crowed. Islamic State leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi was on the run Sunday, a Jordanian general boasted, as his nation ramped up bombing efforts in Syria in response to the barbaric killing of captured Jordanian pilot Muath al-Kaseasbeh.
“He is frightened by what we did in the last three days,” Maj. Gen. Mansour al-Jabour told NBC News. “[ISIS leadership] always hide and they are always on the move but we have assets always in the air for an opportunity to target al-Baghdadi and his gang.” The air force chief announced Sunday that his jet fighters had conducted 56 bomb raids in just three days against ISIS opposition — killing at least 7,000 militants, according to The Christian Times.
But US officials were skeptical about his claims on Monday.
“It was not 7,000 killed over the weekend,” a source told the Post. “I think the general meant 7,000 total killed since the beginning [of the aircampaign].””There are around twenty to thirty thousand ISIS troops currently,” the source added. “The general may have just screwed it up. Or the information got garbled during the interview. The Jordanian strikes that took place over the past three days were aimed at key Islamic State bases and arms depots in northeast Syria, al-Jabour said. “We are determined to wipe them from the face of the Earth,” he told Reuters. “We achieved what we aimed for. We destroyed logistics centers, arms depots and targeted hideouts of their fighters.”
“If [al-Baghdadi] is not frightened, let him show himself to us,” al-Jabour added. “He’ll see what we can do against him.”
Jordan’s King Abdullah vowed to seek revenge against ISIS last week after al-Kaseasbeh was filmed being burned alive in a cage by Islamic State jihadists. On Sunday, al-Jabour said the military’s objectives were ultimately to kill al-Baghdadi, bring down the terrorists’ illicit oil trade and destroy their training bases, garrisons and command centers, The Christian Times reports. “We will not hesitate” to kill al-Baghdadi, the general explained to NBC. “He is going to be on top of our list.” Al-Baghdadi’s whereabouts are unknown, and officials admit he may no longer be in Syria. The last time he was seen in public was in July 2014 — delivering a public address at a mosque in Mosul, Iraq.
Meanwhile Monday, a recruiter for ISIS was killed in Afghanistan by a missile fired from a drone, Afghan officials said. Mullah Abdul Rauf, a former Taliban commander captured by the US and held at Guantanamo Bay, was among six people killed in the strike in Helmand province, Reuters reported, citing Helmand officials. The other casualties were Rauf’s brother-in-law and four Pakistanis, provincial police chief Nabi Jan Mullahkhel said.”We are working to confirm the identities of those killed in the strike,” said Col. Brian Tribus, a US Army spokesman. According to the US Army, a “precision, guided munition” was used to kill eight people who were considered a threat. Tribus declined to say if a drone had launched a missile. Rauf had begun recruiting for ISIS as part of an effort to spread its control beyond Iraq and Syria, according to recent reports. ISIS last month said it was moving into Khorasan, a region that includes Afghanistan and Pakistan.