A US military operation in Syria kills Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, the Islamic State leader who left a trail of death and horror wherever he established a foothold. President Donald Trump prepared to make a “major statement” at the White House.
The United States had put up a $25 million reward for the capture of Baghdadi, who has led the group since 2010. At the time, his operation was still an underground offshoot of al Qaeda in Iraq.
A U.S. official, speaking on condition of anonymity, told Reuters that the U.S. targeted Baghdadi in the overnight raid. However, the official did not confirm if the operation was successful.
The U.S. military killed Baghdadi in a raid in the early hours of Sunday. According to a commander of a militant faction in the northwestern province of Idlib, the raid involved helicopters, warplanes and a ground clash in the Syrian village of Barisha near the Turkish border.
Many believed Baghdadi to be hiding somewhere along the Iraq-Syria border. His self-declared “caliphate” most memorable history is committing atrocities against religious minorities; as well as attacks on five continents in the name of a fanatical interpretation of Islam that horrified mainstream Muslims.
Two Iraqi security sources and two Iranian officials said they had received confirmation from inside Syria that the U.S. military killed Baghdadi.
One of the Iraqi officials said:
Our sources from inside Syria have confirmed to the Iraqi intelligence team tasked with pursuing Baghdadi that he has been killed with his personal bodyguard in Idlib (province) after his hiding place was discovered when he tried to get his family out of Idlib towards the Turkish border.
Iraqi state television broadcast footage from the raid, including daytime images of a crater in the ground. It appeared to be the aftermath of a clash, with torn and blood-stained clothes on the ground. It also showed night-time footage of an explosion.
U.S. magazine Newsweek, which first reported the news, said a U.S. Army official broke the news. The military officer received a debriefing stating that the raid killed Baghdadi.
The Pentagon did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
The commander of the Kurdish-led Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) said joint intelligence work with the United States had resulted in a “successful operation” in an apparent reference to the raid.
The Britain-based war monitor the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said nine people were killed during the two-hour raid. The dead included two women and at least one child. It did not know if Baghdadi was among the dead.
Apparently, the US military struck a house from the air. Immediately thereafter, fighters then descended from helicopters to engage in ground clashes.
The video below shows the destruction and the carnage of Baghdadi’s house after the raid: