Islamic State leader Baghdadi in first purported speech in a year
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Islamic State leader Baghdadi in first purported speech in a year

Cairo: Islamic State leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, in his first purported speech in nearly a year, has called on his followers to persevere, according to a statement posted on the group's propaganda outlet.

"For the Mujahideen [holy warriors] the scale of victory or defeat is not dependent on a city or town being stolen or subject to that who has aerial superiority, intercontinental missiles or smart bombs," Baghdadi says in a recording posted on al-Furqan.

Islamic State leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi has been reported dead before.

Islamic State leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi has been reported dead before.

Photo: Supplied

Reuters was unable to verify whether the voice on the recording was Baghdadi's.

IS, which until last year controlled large areas in Syria and Iraq, has since been driven into the desert following successive defeats in separate offensives in both countries.

Baghdadi, who declared himself ruler of all Muslims in 2014 after capturing Iraq's main northern city Mosul, is now believed to be hiding in the Iraqi-Syrian border region after losing all the cities and towns of his self-proclaimed caliphate.

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The secretive IS leader has frequently been reported killed or wounded since leading his fighters on a sweep through northern Iraq. His whereabouts are not known but Wednesday's message appears to suggest he is still alive.

One of his sons was reported to have been killed in Homs, Syria, the group reported earlier this year.

Baghdadi's last message came in the form of an undated 46-minute audio recording, released via al-Furqan in September, where he urged followers across the world to wage attacks against the West and to keep fighting in Iraq, Syria and elsewhere.

Reuters