A purported audio message by the "Islamic State" (IS) leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi said air strikes by Russia had failed to weaken the group. The authenticity of the voice recording could not be immediately verified.
In the audio recording, "IS" commander al-Baghdadi claims that his "caliphate" is doing "well" despite an unprecedented alliance against it. The message also directly threatens Israel, saying militants would attack the country.
The authenticity of the 24-minute long message, posted Saturday on Twitter accounts that have published "Islamic State" statements in the past, could not be verified.
"...our state is doing well. The more intense the war against it, the purer it becomes and the tougher it gets," the voice attributed to al-Baghdadi said.
If the statement is verified, it would mark al-Baghdadi directly threatening Israeli Jews, saying that they "will hide behind trees and stones" from the "IS."
The militant Sunni Islamist group controls swathes of Iraq and Syria but has come under intensifying military pressure in recent weeks. In Iraq, government troops were pushing deeper into the heart of the last remaining district held by "Islamic State" militants in the city of Ramadi.
The last such online public message said to be by al-Baghdadi was posted in May. He has been reported injured or killed several times in fighting, apparently incorrectly.
dr/se (AP, Reuters, AFP)