'I think Baghdadi's alive... And I'll believe otherwise when we know we've killed him,' James Mattis told reporters. Photograph: (Reuters)
US defence secretary James Mattis says Islamic State chief Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi is still alive
The US defence secretary said on Friday that he believes Islamic State leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi is still alive.
The defence secretary's comments come a month after the Russian military claimed they had hit a meeting Baghdadi was attending near Raqqa, Syria and that he had possibly died in the strike.
Several other reports since then have suggested the IS chief was killed either in Iraq or Syria.
"I think Baghdadi's alive... And I'll believe otherwise when we know we've killed him," James Mattis told reporters.
"But, we're going after him. We assume he's alive," he added.