Pentagon chief Jim Mattis said today he cannot confirm whether or not Islamic State chief Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi is dead, after reports from Syria that the jihadist leader had been killed.
"If we knew, we would tell you -- right now, I can't confirm or deny it," Mattis said.
"Our approach is we assume he's alive until it's proven otherwise, and right now I can't prove it otherwise."
The Britain-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, a longtime conflict monitor, said earlier this week it had heard from senior IS leaders in Syria's Deir Ezzor province that Baghdadi was dead.
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