Islamic State leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi targeted in US raid in Syria. Trump says Baghdadi died whimpering and screaming
US President Donald Trump has confirmed that Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi is dead. He blew himself up using a suicide vest during a US special forces raid, Trump said.
No US personnel were lost in the operation, he said, though many of Baghdadi’s companions were killed.
Speaking to reporters, Trump said Baghdadi “died after running into a dead-end tunnel, whimpering and crying and screaming all the way”.
“His body was mutilated by the blast. The tunnel had caved in on it in addition. But test results gave certain immediate and totally positive identification. It was him,” the president said.
“The thug who tried so hard to intimidate others spent his last moments in utter fear, in total panic and dread, terrified of the American forces bearing down on him.”
“No [US] personnel were lost in the operation while a large number of Baghdadi’s
Trump: Russia, Syria, Turkey and Iraq helped raid
Turkey, the Syrian Kurds and Iraq have all claimed knowledge of the operation, but it seems there may have been other players too.
Trump said Russia, Syria, Turkey and Iraq all assisted in preparations for the raid, which required flying over an hour by helicopter in both directions from an undisclosed base.
The US forces “executed a dangerous and daring nighttime raid in northwestern Syria and accomplished their mission in grand style”, Trump said, adding that a US dog was wounded.
“The canine, a beautiful dog, a talented dog, was injured and brought back,” he said.
World leaders react
Predictably, the United States’ allies have been lining up to congratulate the US on its operation.
British Prime Minister Boris Johnson called Baghdadi’s death “an important moment”.
Meanwhile the French Defence Minister said Baghdadi had been handed an “early retirement”.
The Turkish Defense Ministry also said on Sunday Turkish and U.S. military authorities exchanged and coordinated information ahead of an attack in Syria’s Idlib. “Prior to the U.S. operation in Idlib Province of Syria last night, information exchange and coordination between the military authorities of both countries took place,” the ministry said on Twitter.
However Mohammad Javad Azari-Jahromi, Iran’s information minister, sounded unimpressed.
“Not a big deal, You just killed your creature,” he tweeted, accusing the US of being responsible for Baghdadi’s rise.
Who was Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi?
Baghdadi was born Ibrahim Awad al-Samarrai in 1971 near the Iraqi town of Samarra, as the third of four sons to a Quran teacher who claimed to be a descendent of the Prophet Muhammad.
Apparently a quiet young man who studied Islam and played football, he became one of the most wanted men in the world when in 2014 he declared from Mosul’s al-Nuri Mosque that he was ruler of all the land IS had conquered in Syria and Iraq.