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fight against ISIS

Commander says he doesn't know if ISIS leader is alive, hopes he's 'deader than a doornail'

Despite several reports that Islamic State leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi has been killed, Gen. Stephen Townsend, commanding officer of the U.S.-led anti-ISIS coalition, is adamant that he has seen absolutely no proof of al-Baghdadi's demise.

"Despite all the helpful reports to us from every source imaginable, I'm unable to confirm or deny where he is, or whether he is alive or dead," he said Tuesday. "Let me just say, for the record, my fervent hope is it is the latter. I don't know how to say it any other way … I don't have a clue. Simple as that. So, don't know if he's alive. Don't know if he's dead. I don't know where he's alive. I don't know where his dead body is. I don't have a clue. I'm not trying to message anything."

One thing Townsend does know is he hopes al-Baghdadi is "deader than a doornail," and the United States, if it sees proof al-Baghdadi is still alive, will find him and kill him. Reuters reported on Tuesday that the monitoring group Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said it has confirmed his death, and in June, Russia's defense ministry said al-Baghdadi may have been killed when an air strike targeted ISIS commanders outside of Raqqa, Syria. There is a $25 million reward for al-Baghdadi's capture.