The Islamic State released an audio recording Thursday purportedly from its leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi calling on the terror group to keep on fighting despite a string of defeats in Iraq and Syria.
The U.S. military was examining the recording but could not immediately confirm the authenticity of the 46-minute tape released by al-Furqan outlet run by the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria, or ISIS, said Army Col. Ryan Dillon, a spokesman for Combined Joint Task Force-Operation Inherent Resolve.
"We have continued to assume that he is alive," Dillon said in a briefing to the Pentagon from Baghdad. "If there's any evidence to point to or say where he is, we may have folks moving in right now."
There was no indication of when the recording was made, but it referred to recent statements from North Korea. The voice in the tape sounded much like previous recordings of the reclusive ISIS leader, the Associated Press said in a report from Cairo.
In the recording, the voice purported to be that of Baghdadi called on the jihadis of ISIS to continue the fight despite their loss of Mosul in northwestern Iraq.
"Victory against their enemies and the enemy of God comes next," the recording said, according to the AP.
The recording was the first attributed to Baghdadi since last November, when he called on his followers to defend Mosul.
Baghdadi was last seen in public in 2014, when he appeared in the grand mosque in Mosul to declare an ISIS caliphate, with himself as its leader.
-- Richard Sisk can be reached at Richard.Sisk@Military.com.