President Donald Trump says Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi is dead after a U.S. military operation in Syria targeted the Islamic State group leader.
Trump says in a statement to the nation from the White House’s Diplomatic Room that “al-Baghdadi is dead” — fulfilling the top national security priority of his administration.
He says no U.S. personnel were lost in the mission.
Al-Baghdadi presided over IS’s global jihad and became arguably the world’s most wanted man.
The announcement comes as Trump has been on the receiving end of bipartisan criticism in Washington following the recent pullback of U.S. troops from northeastern Syria. Critics fear that move will allow the militant group to regain strength after it had lost vast stretches of territory it had once controlled.
A senior Turkish official says that “to the best of my knowledge,” Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi arrived at a location in Syria 48 hours before the U.S. military raid that’s believed to have targeted the Islamic State group leader.
The Turkish official says in a written statement Sunday that there’s been “close coordination” among relevant parties and that the Turkish military had advanced knowledge of the raid.
Turkey’s army said earlier in a tweet that it had “information exchanged and coordination” with U.S. military authorities before the operation.
The U.S. raid with helicopters took place in the Barisha area north of Idlib city — a few kilometers from the Turkish border.
Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, the shadowy leader of the Islamic State group, had a $25 million U.S. bounty on his head.
He’d kept a low public profile in recent years, releasing only sporadic audio recordings. In a recording just last month, he called on members of the extremist group to do all they could to free IS detainees and women held in jails and camps.
That purported audio was his first public statement since last April, when he appeared in a video for the first time in five years.
The video included images of the IS leader sitting in a white room with three others. He praised Easter Day bombings that killed more than 250 people and called on militants to be a “thorn” against their enemies.