US Defense Secretary Jim Mattis believes that Islamic State head Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi is still alive, news reports said on Saturday. Despite various reports saying he was dead, Mattis told Pentagon reporters, “I think Baghdadi’s alive… and I will believe otherwise when we know we’ve killed him,” according to AFP.

On July 11, the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said al-Baghdadi had been killed. The militant group also confirmed the news then and had said it would soon announce a successor. Earlier in June, Russia’s military had said that it was investigating if Baghdadi had been killed in one of its airstrikes outside Raqqa, Syria’s de facto capital, on May 28.

Mattis added that he thinks that Baghdadi still had a role in the Islamic State, while other Pentagon officials said he was no longer in charge of the organisation’s day-to-day activities, The New York Times reported.