Reclusive even when IS was at the peak of its power, the 47-year-old Iraqi, who suffers from diabetes, has been rumoured to have been wounded or killed several times in the past. And his whereabouts have never been confirmed.

So, with his proto-state gone and a $25-million US bounty on his head, where is Baghdadi?

“He only has three companions: his older brother Jumaa, his driver and bodyguard Abdullatif al-Jubury, whom he has known since childhood, and his courier Saud al-Kurdi,” said Hisham al-Hashemi, an Iraqi specialist in IS.

Hashemi said the quartet is likely laying low somewhere in Syria’s vast Badia desert, which stretches from the eastern border with Iraq to the sweeping province of Homs.