The Pentagon cannot confirm if a weekend airstrike on a 10-vehicle convoy killed or wounded ISIL’s shadowy leader, but it said Monday that the attack targeted “battlefield leaders,” not senior leadership.

There is speculation that Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, the self-declared “caliph” of the militant group, was the target of the strike, with many, including Iraqi officials, saying that he was killed or wounded.

Pentagon spokesman Col. Steve Warren said that U.S. officials could not confirm that the ISIL leader was wounded by the airstrike.

“Obviously there´s a lot of conflicting reports out there on the fate of al-Baghdadi. But the bottom line from our perspective is we simply cannot confirm his current status,” Warren said.

He added that the strike in question targeted “battlefield commanders or battlefield leaders.”

Baghdadi’s death would mark an important gain for the U.S. and coalition partners as they attempt to degrade and defeat ISIL.

While numerous strikes have targeted the group, there is little information to support that senior leadership has effectively been taken out to this point.

President Barack Obama said Sunday that a plan to send an additional 1,500 troops to Iraq to assist and train forces there marks a “new phase” in the anti-ISIL fight.

The U.S. has been assisting Iraqi forces since August when Obama authorized military action and assistance to beat back the militants following their significant gains in the country.

Anadolu Agency - Photo: Wikimedia