US Thinks It Took Out ISIS Chief in Raid

Baghdadi believed killed in coalition raid in northern Syria; president will make announcement at 9am
By Newser Editors and Wire Services
Posted Oct 27, 2019 5:43 AM CDT
ISIS Honcho Believed Killed in US Hit
This 2014 file image purports to show ISIS leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi delivering a sermon at a mosque in Iraq during his first public appearance. The leader of the Islamic State militant network is believed dead after being targeted by a US military raid in Syria.   (AP Photo/Militant video, File)

Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, the shadowy leader of the Islamic State who presided over its global jihad and became arguably the world's most wanted man, is believed dead after being targeted by a US military raid in Syria. A US official told the AP late Saturday that al-Baghdadi was targeted in Syria's northwestern Idlib province, but confirmation that the ISIS chief was killed in an explosion is pending. President Trump teased a major announcement, tweeting Saturday night that "Something very big has just happened!" A White House spokesman would say only that the president would be making a "major statement" at 9am ET Sunday. If confirmed, the operation's success could prove a major boost for Trump in the wake of criticism over the recent pullback of US troops he ordered from northeastern Syria. Al-Baghdadi and his wife both detonated explosive vests they were wearing during the US commando operation, a senior Iraqi security official said.

The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights reported an attack carried out by eight coalition helicopters accompanied by a warplane on the Hurras al-Deen, an al-Qaeda-linked group, north of Idlib city, after midnight Saturday. ISIS operatives are believed to be in the area. It said the helicopters targeted ISIS positions with heavy strikes for about 120 minutes. The Observatory documented nine deaths. Al-Baghdadi's presence in the village, a few miles from the Turkish border, would come as a surprise, even if some ISIS leaders are believed to have fled to Idlib after losing their last sliver of territory in Syria to Kurdish forces in March. Kurdish forces appeared ready to portray al-Baghdadi's death as a joint victory for their faltering alliance with the US. The commander of the Kurdish-led Syrian Democratic Forces, Mazloum Abdi, tweeted: "Successful& historical operation due to a joint intelligence work with the United States of America."

(More Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi stories.)

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