President Donald Trump speaks in the Diplomatic Room of the White House in Washington, Sunday, Oct. 27, 2019. (AP Photo/Andrew Harnik)
The shadowy leader of the Islamic State group who presided over its global jihad and became arguably the world’s most wanted man, is dead after being targeted by a U.S. military raid in Syria, President Donald Trump said Sunday.“Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi is dead,” Trump announced at the White House, saying the U.S. had “brought the world’s number one terrorist leader to justice.”
As U.S. forces bore down on him, Trump said al-Baghdadi fled into a “dead-end” tunnel with three of his children and detonated a suicide vest. “He was a sick and depraved man, and now he’s gone,” Trump said. “He died like a dog, he died like a coward.”
A U.S. official told The Associated Press late Saturday that al-Baghdadi was targeted in Syria’s northwestern Idlib province. No U.S. forces were killed or injured in the raid, Trump said. He added that al-Baghdadi’s identity was positively confirmed by a DNA test conducted onsite. Trump on late Saturday had teased a major announcement, tweeting that “Something very big has just happened!” By the morning, he was thanking Russia, Turkey, Syria and Iraq, as well as Kurdish fighters in Syria for their support.
The killing of al-Baghdadi marks a significant foreign policy success for Trump, coming at one of the lowest points in his presidency as he is mired in impeachment proceedings and facing widespread Republican condemnation for his Syria policy. The recent pullback of U.S. 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. Trump said the troop pullout “had nothing to do with this.”
Planning for the operation began two weeks ago, Trump said, after the U.S. gained unspecified intelligence on al-Baghdadi’s whereabouts. Eight military helicopters landed at the compound and were met by gunfire, Trump said.
Source: Associated Press