The leader of ISIS has urged suicide bombers to attack western cities as Iraqi forces close in on his hideout in Mosul and the jihadis defeat appears imminent.

In his first statement since the major offensive began, Abu al-Baghdadi implored jihadis to attack the ‘enemies of God’ in what is seen as an all or nothing battle to fanatics.

He also urged suicide bombers all over the world to ‘destroy the cities of the unbelievers’ as ISIS’s defeat in the spiritually significant city becomes ever more certain.

‘Turn the nights of the unbelievers into days, to wreck havoc in their land and make their blood flow as rivers,’ he said in the chilling audio release, the first since the major Iraqi offensive began.

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The leader said he was ‘confident of victory’ and called on his fighters to resist as Iraqi forces were poised to enter the city, declared a ‘caliphate’ when it was overrun by ISIS two years ago.

‘Do not retreat,’ he says on the audio recording, adding: ‘Holding your ground with honour is a thousand times easier than retreating in shame.’

He added: ‘This (..) total war and the great jihad that the state of Islamic is fighting today only increases our firm belief, God willing, and our conviction that all this is a prelude to victory.’

In his latest message, which is undated but makes references to events that are at most a few weeks old, Baghdadi calls for attacks against Saudi Arabia – a favourite target of his – and Turkey.

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Ankara has troops stationed at a base just outside Mosul and Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan’s escalating rhetoric has raised fears of a unilateral Turkish intervention in Iraq.

Baghdadi also said that his followers who could not travel to Syria or Iraq should aim for Libya and urged all IS fighters to remain united in adversity.

He attempted to stir up sectarian resentment by referring to religious flags and slogans of Shiite fighters among the Iraqi forces and by accusing the country’s Sunni politicians of treason.

Al-Baghdadi issued the audio message from his hideout, which is believed to be inside the city walls as he was unable to escape the former stronghold as enemy forces advanced.

The US-led coalition estimates there are 3,000 to 5,000 IS fighters inside the city but the final outcome of the battle appears to be in little doubt.

Tens of thousands of Iraqi forces, backed by the US-led coalition and its warplanes, launched a massive offensive on Mosul on October 17.

ISIS terrorists have resorted to using human shields as they attempt to defend Mosul and fanatics have been preventing the city’s 1.5 million residents from escaping in recent weeks, according to Pentagon spokesman Jeff Davis.

They are being held there ‘against their will’ and coalition forces ‘know they are being used as human shields,’ Davis added.

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