President Donald Trump announced on Sunday that the leader of the so-called Islamic State Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi died in an overnight US military operation in Syria, delivering a major blow to the terrorist group even as U.S. forces withdraw from the area. “He died like a dog. He died like a coward. The world is now a much safer place,” Trump said in a grisly Sunday morning address to the nation. Baghdadi died after running into the end of tunnel, “whimpering and crying and screaming all the way,” as he was chased by American military dogs, Trump said. Accompanied by three young children, Baghdadi then ignited his suicide vest, killing himself and all three children, the president said.
The ISIS leader was targeted near Barisha, Syria overnight. American forces used helicopters, jets and drones through airspace controlled by Russia and Turkey. No Americans were killed in the raid, but Trump said one of the military dogs was injured. “Baghdadi’s demise demonstrates America’s relentless pursuit of terrorist leaders,” Trump said. “He was a sick and depraved man, and now he’s gone.” Trump said that an on-site DNA test confirmed the death of ISIS leader just 15 minutes after he was killed. Baghdadi’s death has been incorrectly reported several times in previous years. The military operation comes after Trump’s controversial decision to draw down troops in Syria, clearing the way for a Turkish military operation against the Kurds, who fought alongside the U.S. to defeat the so-called Islamic State.
Syrian Kurdish forces claimed on Sunday that they participated in the operation. Kurdish commander Mazloum Abdi tweeted: “Successful historical operation due to a joint intelligence work with the United States of America.”
Trump said only U.S. forces were involved in the operation, but thanked several powers for their cooperation.
“I want to thank the nations of Russia, Turkey, Syria and Iraq,” Trump said. “I also want to thank the Syrian Kurds for certain support they were able to give us.”
Who was Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi?
Baghdadi is thought to have been born in the central Iraqi city of Samarra in 1971. Though a weak student, whose poor eyesight disqualified him from joining the Iraqi military, he rose to command al-Qaeda’s Iraqi division and then broke away to form Islamic State (Isis). In July 2014, shortly after Isis said it had established a caliphate in Iraq and Syria, Baghdadi delivered a sermon from a mosque in the captured Iraqi city of Mosul. Appearing unmasked for the first time, he declared himself to be the caliph: the political and religious leader of the global Muslim community. CNBC/Guardian/Tiranapost.al