ISIS leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi is reported to be killed in a U.S. raid northern Syria on Saturday, according to multiple reports. However, no further details are provided yet about the operation.
News reports quoted U.S. officials with knowledge as saying that the final confirmation is pending as DNA and biometric testing is being conducted.
Baghdadi detonated a suicide vest during the raid, according to the CNN.
Newsweek said it had been told by a US Army official briefed on the raid that Baghdadi, 48, was dead. It said the operation took place in Syria’s north-western Idlib province, and was carried out by special operations forces after receiving actionable intelligence.
Iran was informed by Syrian sources that Baghdadi had been killed, two Iranian officials told Reuters on Sunday.
“Iran was informed about Baghdadi’s death by Syrian officials who got it from the field,” one of the officials said.
Reuters was also told by Iraqi security sources that Baghdadi had been killed.
“Our sources from inside Syria have confirmed to the Iraqi intelligence team tasked with pursuing Baghdadi that he has been killed alongside his personal bodyguard in Idlib, after his hiding place was discovered when he tried to get his family out of Idlib towards the Turkish border,” one of the sources told Reuters.
Associated Press reported the observatory as saying nine people had died in the attack, but it was not known whether Baghdadi was one of them.
Earlier on Saturday the White House spokesman, Hogan Gidley, said Donald Trump planned to make a “major statement” at 9am on Sunday morning (1300GMT).
Something very big has just happened!
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) October 27, 2019
President Trump gave an indication that something was afoot earlier on Saturday night when he tweeted without explanation: “Something very big has just happened!”
Origins of ISIS, Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi
The Islamic State – also known as ISIS, ISIL, or Daesh – emerged from the remnants of al-Qaeda in Iraq (AQI), a local offshoot of al-Qaeda founded by Abu Musab al-Zarqawi in 2004. It faded into obscurity for several years after the surge of U.S. troops in Iraq in 2007. But it began to reemerge in 2011. Over the next few years, it took advantage of growing instability in Iraq and Syria to carry out attacks and bolster its ranks.
The group changed its name to the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS) in 2013. ISIS launched an offensive on Mosul and Tikrit in June 2014. On June 29, ISIS leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi announced the formation of a caliphate stretching from Aleppo in Syria to Diyala in Iraq, and renamed the group the Islamic State. In August 2014, the United States started to carry out airstrikes against ISIS.
On October 17, 2016, Iraqi Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi announced the mission to retake Mosul.
On July 10, 2017, al-Abadi officially announced the liberation of Mosul.