The presence of Baghdadi in Mosul may complicate and prolong the battle for Mosul as his surviving adherents fight to the death to defend him. Photograph:( AFP )
Islamic State (IS) chief Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi has been trapped by the Iraqi army in Mosul, a report in the Independent suggested.
This is the first time that the Iraqi army has been able to enter the terrorist group’s stronghold in more than two years for an assault.
Fuad Hussein, chief of staff to Kurdish president Massoud Barzani, told the newspaper that this will mean "the collapse of the whole [IS] system”.
Many other influential members of the IS from Syria and other countries have been killed after they took over northern Iraq and eastern Syria.
If Baghdadi is killed, IS would have to look for a new leadership in the middle of a crisis.
"It is obvious that they will lose, but not how long this will take to happen,” the Independent reported Hussein as saying.
Kurdish Peshmerga forces had been impressed by the number of tunnels that IS had dug to provide hiding places in the villages around Mosul, he added.
The Iraqi Special Forces advanced into Mosul on Tuesday and seized the state television on the east bank of the Tigris River that divides the city in half.
The fall of Mosul depends on many things including whether or not IS “is going to destroy the five bridges over the river”, Hussein said.
Iraqi troops entered Gogjali, a district inside Mosul’s city limits, and later the borders of the more built-up Karama district, according to Major General Sami al-Aridi of the Iraqi special forces, PTI reported.
The entire anti-IS offensive is dependent on US-led air strikes and the presence of US special forces.
(WION with inputs from agencies)