‘He Died Like a Dog’: Trump Announces Death of ISIS Chief Baghdadi
Donald Trump teased a major announcement on Saturday night, tweeting, “Something very big has just happened!”
Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, leader of the Islamic State group, was killed in a US military raid in Syria on Satuday night, 26 October, US President Donald Trump confirmed on Sunday.
“Last night, the US brought the world’s number one terrorist to justice. Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi is dead,” he said in a special address from the White House, adding that the IS leader had “died like a dog”.
Trump said that the IS leader died after running into a dead-end tunnel “whimpering and crying and screaming all the way,” adding that he ignited his vest, killing himself and three of his children he had dragged along.
The US president went on to thank Russia, Turkey, Syria, Iraq and Syrian Kurds for contributing to the operation.
He also thanked the US personnel involved in the attack, adding that “highly sensitive material” was retrieved regarding ISIS’s origins and their future plans.
Al-Baghdadi's presence in the village, which is a few kilometers away from the Turkish border, comes as a surprise since the surrounding areas are largely controlled by a rival of the Islamic State group – the al-Qaida-linked Hayat Tahrir al-Sham, or HTS, according to AP.
The Turkish military also tweeted that prior to the operation in Idlib, it exchanged “information” and coordinated with US military authorities.
The operation's success could prove a major boost for Trump, who had earlier teased the announcement, tweeting on Saturday night, “Something very big has just happened!”
The recent pullback of US troops he ordered from northeastern Syria raised a storm of bipartisan criticism in Washington that the militant group could regain strength, after it had lost vast stretches of territory it had once controlled.
‘IS Positions Targeted With Heavy Strikes’
The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, a Syria war monitor, according to AP, had reported an attack carried out by a squadron of eight helicopters accompanied by a warplane, on positions in the Barisha area north of Idlib city, after midnight on Saturday.
It said the helicopters targeted IS positions with heavy strikes for about 120 minutes, during which jihadists fired at the aircraft with heavy weapons.
The Britain-based Observatory, which operates through a network of activists on the ground, reportedly documented the death of nine people as a result of the attack. It, however, wasn’t able to confirm al-Baghdadi’s death.
Kurdish Forces, Iraq Claim Part in Victory
Kurdish forces were ready to portray al-Baghdadi's death as a joint victory for their faltering alliance with the US, weeks after Trump ordered American forces to withdraw from northeastern Syria, all but abandoning Washington's allies to a wide-ranging Turkish assault.
The commander of the Kurdish-led Syrian Democratic Forces, Mazloum Abdi, tweeted: “Successful & historical operation due to a joint intelligence work with the United States of America.”
A senior Iraqi security official told The Associated Press that Iraqi intelligence played a part in the operation. He added that other IS leaders were killed in the attack.
(With inputs from AP)
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