ISIS leader purportedly tells fighters: ‘You are on the right path’

Updated 9:31 PM EST, Sat December 26, 2015
isis leader bagdhadi purported recording israel threat liebermann lklv_00004823.jpg
isis leader bagdhadi purported recording israel threat liebermann lklv_00004823.jpg
Now playing
01:27
New message from ISIS leader?
Now playing
01:01
Fleeing ISIS in Mosul: Their faces say it all
women flee isis to debaga
women flee isis to debaga
PHOTO: CNN
Now playing
01:58
Women recount horror of life under ISIS
PHOTO: CNN
Now playing
01:30
ISIS survivor tells her story
Nick Paton Walsh Mosul ISIS gunfire orig_00004713.jpg
Nick Paton Walsh Mosul ISIS gunfire orig_00004713.jpg
Now playing
01:20
Iraq forces and ISIS exchange gunfire
Iraqi women react as people gather on July 9, 2016 at the site of a suicide-bombing attack which took place on July 3 in Baghdad
Iraqi women react as people gather on July 9, 2016 at the site of a suicide-bombing attack which took place on July 3 in Baghdad's Karrada neighbourhood. The Baghdad bombing claimed by the Islamic State group killed 292 people, according to a new toll issued on July 7, many of whom were trapped in blazing buildings and burned alive. A suicide bomber detonated an explosives-laden minibus early on July 3, ahead of the Eid al-Fitr holiday marking the end of the holy Muslim fasting month of Ramadan. / AFP / AHMAD AL-RUBAYE (Photo credit should read AHMAD AL-RUBAYE/AFP/Getty Images)
PHOTO: AHMAD AL-RUBAYE/AFP/Getty Images
Now playing
01:24
Majority of ISIS victims are Muslim
PHOTO: ISIS
Now playing
01:23
Is it ISIS, ISIL or Daesh?
Now playing
02:19
ISIS' battle tactics
PHOTO: CNN
Now playing
00:46
Why Libya matters to ISIS
ISIS hates yazidis terrorist group target orig cm_00000923.jpg
ISIS hates yazidis terrorist group target orig cm_00000923.jpg
Now playing
01:57
ISIS hates this religious group the most
iraq isis human shields damon pkg_00013513.jpg
iraq isis human shields damon pkg_00013513.jpg
Now playing
02:44
Iraqis recount horrors of being human shields for ISIS
isis fratricide robertson pkg_00002526.jpg
isis fratricide robertson pkg_00002526.jpg
PHOTO: SITE Monitoring
Now playing
02:43
ISIS calls on Saudi supporters to kill relatives
ISIS released still pictures purporting to show massive parade of their militants in the city of Sirte, Libya
ISIS released still pictures purporting to show massive parade of their militants in the city of Sirte, Libya
PHOTO: ISIS
Now playing
02:30
Why is ISIS heading to Libya?
iraqi town suffering after isis chemical attack damon pkg cnn today_00010115.jpg
iraqi town suffering after isis chemical attack damon pkg cnn today_00010115.jpg
Now playing
02:34
Iraqi town suffering from ISIS chemical attack

Story highlights

An audio message appears on ISIS-affiliated social media claiming to be from Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi.

The message says, "Soldiers of the Islamic State be patient because you are on the right path"

The recording is released as Iraq's military says it is gaining more ground in fight against ISIS

(CNN) —  

As ISIS fends off ground attacks around places like Ramadi and airstrikes by U.S., Russian and other forces, its leader purportedly fired back in an audio message that surfaced online Saturday, mocking the Western coalition aligned against him, threatening Israel and trying to boost his own forces’ morale.

“Soldiers of the Islamic State be patient because you are on the right path,” says the man, who is identified on ISIS-affiliated social media accounts as Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi. “Be patient, because God is with you.”

CNN could not independently verify the man speaking is indeed Baghdadi, the much-reviled head of the group that calls itself the Islamic State.

He isn’t often heard from or seen, the last such example coming last May in a reported online audio statement – a reclusiveness that could be traced to the fact he’s a wanted man for leading fighters in carrying out atrocities and taking over swaths of Syria and Iraq, not to mention inspiring or pulling off attacks elsewhere in Europe, Asia, Africa and the Middle East.

Regardless, those who posted the audio message that appeared Saturday appeared to believe it came from Baghdadi. And it has a marker consistent with other ISIS media and was produced by the group’s al-Furqan Media wing.

It’s not clear when the 24-minute tape was recorded, as it makes no reference to recent ISIS-related operations such as the terror attacks in Paris or the downing of a Russian commercial jet out of Egypt.

The speech appears to focus mostly on ISIS fighters, trying to boost their spirits in the face of ongoing fighting, according to analysts.

Yet there are also references to the U.S.-led coalition, which has carried out airstrikes in Iraq and Syria against ISIS but has not dispatched combat troops – something that the man attributes to armed conflicts in Afghanistan and Iraq.

He also promises a battle aimed at Israel and in support of Palestinians, who have been in conflict for centuries in the Middle East.

“The Jews think we forget about it and got distracted from it,” the ISIS leader purportedly said. “No, oh Jews. We have not forgotten Palestine and never will.”

Iraqi forces gain ground in Ramadi

Iraqi military forces and counterterror units have gained control of Ramadi’s al-Huz district, 500 meters (550 yards) south of the ISIS-held government compound in central Ramadi, the Iraqi Joint Operation Command said Saturday.

The assault on ISIS also came from the air.

An Iraqi Air Force strike targeting ISIS headquarters in the city in central Iraq reportedly killed Omar Sami Bedaiwi al-Issawi, ISIS’ top security official for the nearby city of Falluja. He had been fighting in Ramadi.

The news comes after fierce clashes to recapture the district from ISIS and clear it of a large number of booby traps.

Iraqi troops also have advanced to Ramadi Dam, about 1.2 kilometers (three-quarters of a mile) from ISIS’ compound, giving Iraqi security forces control of the important road that stretches between Ramadi Dam and the Albu Faraj area in the city’s north.

Iraqi security forces rescued 120 Iraqi families trapped by the fighting, officials said. Families were taken to Habbaniyah, where the Iraqi Red Crescent Society is looking after them.

Iraqi forces are also closing in on Falluja, Anbar province’s second-largest city, the Iraqi Joint Operation Command said.

Progress for Syrian rebels

The U.S.-backed Syrian Democratic Forces seized control of the Tishrin Dam on the Euphrates River in northern Syria after clashes with ISIS fighters, the rebel group said Saturday on its website.

Tishrin Dam is about 22 kilometers (14 miles) north of the ISIS stronghold of Raqqa.

The SDF claimed other victories in northern Syria, saying its forces took over eight villages since Friday night.