Counter-Daesh coalition commander in Iraq and Syria says he doesn't know Baghdad's location but he's probably in the Euphrates valley.
Daesh leader Abu Bakr al Baghdadi is probably still alive and likely hiding in the middle Euphrates river valley, a senior US general said Thursday.
"We're looking for him every day. I don't think he's dead," Lieutenant General Stephen Townsend, commander of the counter-Daesh coalition in Iraq and Syria, told reporters in a conference call.
Townsend admitted he didn't "have a clue" where Baghdadi is precisely, but believes he may have fled with many other Daesh militants into the middle Euphrates region stretching from Syria to Iraq, after coalition and local force assaults on the group's bastions of Mosul, Raqqa and Tal Afar.
"The last stand of ISIS (Daesh) will be in the middle Euphrates river valley," Townsend said.
"When we find him, I think we'll just try to kill him first. It's probably not worth all the trouble to try and capture him."
With a $25 million US bounty on his head, Iraq-born Baghdadi has successfully avoided an intense effort to seek him out for six years or more.
Britain-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, a longtime conflict monitor, said in June that it had heard from senior Daesh leaders in Syria's Deir Ezzor province that Baghdadi was dead.
Russia's army said in mid-June that it was seeking to verify whether it had killed him in a May air strike in Syria.
"I've seen no convincing evidence, intelligence, or open-source or other rumor or otherwise that he's dead ... There are also some indicators in intelligence channels that he's still alive," said Townsend.
Daesh convoy deep in Syria
A convoy loaded with Daesh militants, who were released by Lebanon, was headed back into deep Syria on Thursday after being blocked at the Iraq border, Townsend said.
The senior US general said the convoy of buses and vans carrying hundreds of fighters, but also women and children, had turned around after being restocked with food and water from forces allied with Syrian regime leader Bashar al Assad.
Townsend confirmed that the coalition had blocked the convoy just short of the border by bombing the road and a bridge leading from the Syrian town of Hmaymah to the Daesh-held town of Albukamal further east.
He also said the coalition had attacked Daesh vehicles that emerged to link up with the convoy.
But he stressed that, with non-combatants believed inside the vehicles as well, "we have not struck this convoy at all."
"I'd very much like to get at the ISIS (Daesh) fighters on that convoy," Townsend said.
The convoy was headed back into Syria Thursday afternoon local time.
"We're just letting them go. If they try to get to the edge of ISIS (Daesh) territory and link up with ISIS (Daesh) there, we'll work hard to disrupt that," Townsend said.
The Daesh militants and civilians were evacuated Monday from the border region between Lebanon and Syria under a ceasefire deal.