Two Iraqi officials have confirmed that the commander of Islamic State, Abu Bakr al Baghdadi, has been wounded by an airstrike, with speculation mounting that he may have been killed.
On Sunday senior Iraqi officials confirmed that the leader of the Islamic State group was at the very least wounded in the coalition attack and said that the terror chief's right hand man, Auf Abdulrahman Elefery, had died during the aerial assault.
An Iraqi security official, Hisham al-Hashimi, told the Daily Telegraph that Elefery was "Baghdadi's very close companion. " Elefery's death in the attack was confirmed to him by relatives.
"He and Baghdadi were rarely separate. It's for this reason that it could be possible that Baghdadi was with him at the time of the attack," said Hashimi.
General Nicholas Houghton, the Chief of the Defence Staff of the British Armed Forces told the Daily Telegraph: "I can't absolutely confirm that Baghdadi has been killed. Probably it will take some days to have absolute confirmation."
Speaking on condition of anonymity, a senior Iraqi military official said he learned in operational meetings that al Baghdadi had been injured in the attack. Neither knew the extent of the militant leader's injuries.
Informants within the militant group reportedly leaked the information confirming that the leader of the Islamic State group had been wounded in an airstrike in western Iraq.
State television later also reported that al Baghdadi had suffered serious injuries.
Senior IS officers were meeting at a house in al-Qaim, a town on the Iraq-Syria border when coalition forced dropped bombs, with reports of between a dozen and fifty people being killed. A convoy of ten trucks was also targetted.
Al Baghdadi, believed to be in his early 40s, is regarded as the pre-eminent figure in the global jihadi community, leading the campaign of terror against the west. He has a $10 million US bounty on his head.
The leader of IS in Anbar province, along with his deputy, were also killed in the attack according to local officials.
While Pentagon officials said they had no information on al Baghdadi being wounded, US Central Command said in a statement: "This strike demonstrates the pressure we continue to place on the IS terrorist network and the group's increasingly limited freedom to manoeuvre, communicate and command."
A US-led coalition has been launching airstrikes on Islamic State militants and facilities in Iraq and Syria for months. The strikes are part of an effort to give Iraqi forces the time to mount a more effective offensive.
Earlier this week, US President Barack Obama authorised the deployment of up to 1,500 more American troops doubling the presence of U.S. forces on the ground who will advise and retrain Iraqis in their battle against Islamic State.
"The airstrikes have been very effective in degrading ISIL's capabilities and slowing the advance that they were making," the president told CBS News' Face the Nation. "Now what we need is ground troops, Iraqi ground troops, that can start pushing them back."
The deployment signifies a significant escalation of the US campaign against the Islamic State, dubbed Operation Inherent Resolve by the Pentagon.