CHIEF of the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant’s (ISIL), Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, in a propaganda video, asserted that the battle for Baghouz, ISIL’s final bastion in eastern Syria, “is over.” Al Jazeera cited the video, published by ISIL’s Al Furqan media network on Monday, in which the ISIL leader seemed to have grown a bushy grey beard. He kept an assault weapon close by and sat in a cross-legged position on a cushion along with three men by his side whose faces were blurred. “There will be more to come after this battle,” said al-Baghdadi, apparently referring to the final fight in Baghouz. Al-Baghdadi had appeared for the first time in the propaganda video since delivering a sermon at the Great Mosque of al-Nuri, in Mosul, Iraq, in 2014, declaring a “Caliphate” in Iraq and Syria.
Meanwhile, an audio message was also put out, purportedly of al-Baghdadi, saying that the April 21 attacks in Sri Lanka, which left at least 253 people dead, was “vengeance” for ISIL’s “brothers in Baghouz”. “Your brothers in Sri Lanka have healed the hearts of monotheists with their suicide bombings, which shook the beds of the crusaders during Easter to avenge your brothers in Baghouz,” al-Baghdadi was reportedly heard saying. “Our battle today is a war of attrition to harm the enemy, and they should know that jihad will continue until doomsday,” he mentioned.
Lanka’s church services to resume from May 5
PUBLIC mass in the terror-hit Sri Lanka would resume in certain Catholic churches from May 5 and no bags will be allowed inside as part of the tight security measures, according to Cardinal Malcolm Ranjith. All public church services were cancelled after the bomb blasts that ripped through 3 churches and high-end hotels, killing 253 people and injuring 500 others.