(CNN) – Strong words from the outgoing Defense Secretary on the terror group ISIS. He says the group’s leader’s days are numbered.
The hunt for ISIS leader Abu-bakr al Baghdadi may be intensifying.
Defense Secretary Ash Carter offering uncharacteristic detail, “He moves around. We… I’m just confident. I don’t want to say any more than that.”
Carter says the U.S. doesn’t know exactly where Baghdadi is, but he is making clear there is fresh intelligence. Military and intelligence officials will not say if the new information comes from overhead surveillance by drones or aircraft, intercepting communications or detainees who have been willing to talk.
“We anticipate that Baghdadi and other senior ISIL leaders have been moving around,” said Peter Cook, Pentagon Press Secretary.
Iraqi Shia militias now insist he is hiding west of Mosul not far from the Syrian border.
U.S. special operations forces who have been looking for Baghdadi from the air and on the ground have gotten clues from raids against top ISIS operatives.
“As we continue to recover sensitive intelligence in locations in Iraq and Syria, we are going to continue to use that intelligence and use what we learn about their movements,” said Cook.
The top U.S. Commander noting Baghdadi is increasingly isolated by the killing of those around him, making him vulnerable.
“Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi probably wishes he had more direct command and control over his formation than he does right now,” said Lt. Gen. Stephen Townsend, Commander of Combined Joint Task Force, Operation Inherent Resolve.
According to the Defense Secretary, it’s only a matter of time, “His days are numbered and that’s true of all the rest of the leadership.”
One additional clue, a U.S. official says the U.S. is aware of some of Baghdadi’s movements in the last few weeks.