A U.S. military official says Islamic State (IS) group leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi is losing control of his troops as Iraqi forces try to recapture the IS-held city of Mosul.
U.S. Colonel John Dorrian, a spokesman for the U.S.-led coalition fighting IS militants in Iraq and Syria, made his comments after a reported recording of Baghdadi on November 3 exhorting his fighters in Mosul not to retreat in the battle for the northern city with Iraqi forces.
Dorrian said that although the authenticity of the recording had not been verified, it was a clear effort by IS leaders to communicate with their militants.
He added that the voice on the recording was heard telling the fighters not to "fight amongst yourselves."
"This is the type of thing that a leader who is losing command and control and ability to keep everybody on the same page says," Dorrian said.
Ludovico Carlino, an analyst with IHS Jane's, said the speech suggested the group's leadership "is increasingly concerned about defections and militants fleeing the battlefield."
Baghdadi's whereabouts is unknown and there have been repeated rumors that he had been injured in fighting or a bomb attack from the U.S.-led coalition.
Iraqi forces and their allies have broken into the eastern part of the city of some 1.5 million people and are closing in from the south and north.