ISIS leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, in his first purported speech in nearly a year, has called on followers to fight on despite recent defeats, according to an audio recording posted on the group's media outlet.
In the 55-minute statement, Baghdadi said that for his fighters, “the scale of victory or defeat is not dependant on a city or town being stolen or subject to that who has aerial superiority, intercontinental missiles or smart bombs.”
Reuters was unable to verify whether the voice on the Arabic recording posted by al-Furqan media group was Baghdadi's.
ISIS, which until last year controlled large areas in Syria and Iraq, has since been driven into the desert by successive defeats in offensives by international allies in both countries.
Reuters said that Baghdadi is now believed to be hiding in the Iraqi-Syrian border region after losing all the cities and towns of his self-proclaimed “caliphate.”
The secretive ISIS leader has frequently been reported killed or wounded since leading his fighters on a sweep through northern Iraq in 2014. His whereabouts are not known but Wednesday's message suggests he is still alive.