President Trump Confirms Death Of ISIS Leader Baghdadi [UPDATED]

After cryptically tweeting “Something very big has just happened!” last night, and setting off an abundance of speculation, President Trump this morning confirmed that ISIS leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi had been killed in a US Special Forces operation in northwest Syria. Reports say that at around 11 PM stateside, eight US helicopters, one fighter jet, and ground forces began pummeling a compound in Syria’s Idlib province, an area that has been experiencing an ISIS insurgency. Baghdadi is said to have detonated a suicide vest he was wearing as US forces closed in on him.

In an announcement Sunday morning at the White House, President Trump said capturing or killing Baghdadi was one of his administration’s highest priorities, and said he watched parts of the operation in the Situation Room with Secretary of Defense Mark Esper and National Security Advisor Robert O’Brien.

Presidet Trump said that during the operation, which lasted around two hours, Baghdadi retreated to a tunnel inside the compound, bringing three children with him to use as human shields. As US forces neared him, he detonated his suicide vest, killing himself and the three children. Baghdadi tried to flee US forces “whimpering and crying and screaming all the way,” said President Trump. “The thug who tried so hard to intimidate others spent his last moments in utter fear, and total panic and dread, terrified of the American forces bearing down on him,” continued Trump. “He died like a dog… he died like a coward.”

The Pentagon is expected to soon release more information regarding how many other terrorists were killed by US forces. President Trump said the US suffered no casualties in the raid. Two US troops and one canine were lightly injured during the raid.

The president said that the killing of Baghdadi shows that the US is committed to defeating ISIS and every other terror organization worldwide. Trump said that forces retrieved a treasure trove of information on ISIS and their future plans from the compound, which intelligence officials are now poring over.

President Trump watching the operation from the Situation Room

Baghdadi, who had been the leader of the ISIS terror group since 2010, and declared himself its supreme leader and the leader of all Muslims in 2014, was long thought to have been hiding somewhere along the Iraq-Syria border. Baghdadi was the man behind the fanning of the radical fundamentalism that drove ISIS militants to kill innocents all over the globe. The US had been tracking him for several weeks during which time Baghdadi tried, unsuccessfully, to leave the area. He was the highest-ranking terrorist killed since Osama bin Laden, who was eliminated by Navy SEAL’s in 2011.

Reports say the CIA was behind a complex intelligence-gathering operation that culminated in the locating of Baghdadi. Kurdish forces provided the US with intelligence that led them to the notorious leader of ISIS, a revelation that some say may shift US allegiances back to the Kurds, who were abandoned last week after President Trump ordered the withdrawal of US troops from Syria.

UPDATE: On Sunday afternoon, Kurdish commander Mazloum Abdi said that a joint US-SDF (Kurds) raid resulted in the death of Abu al-Hassan al-Muhajir,  right-hand man to Baghdadi.

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