BAGHDAD/WASHINGTON (Reuters) – Islamic State chief Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi is believed to have been killed in a U.S. army operation in Syria, sources in Syria, Iraq and Iran mentioned on Sunday, as U.S. President Donald Trump ready to make a “main assertion” on the White Home.
FILE PHOTO: A person presupposed to be the reclusive chief of the militant Islamic State Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi has made what can be his first public look at a mosque within the centre of Iraq’s second metropolis, Mosul, in response to a video recording posted on the Web on July 5, 2014, on this nonetheless picture taken from video. Social Media Web site through Reuters TV/File Photograph
A U.S. official, talking on situation of anonymity, instructed Reuters that Baghdadi was focused within the in a single day raid however was unable to say whether or not the operation was profitable.
A commander of one of many militant factions within the northwestern Syrian province of Idlib mentioned Baghdadi was believed to have been killed in a raid after midnight on Saturday involving helicopters, warplanes and a floor conflict within the village of Brisha close to the Turkish border.
Two Iraqi safety sources and two Iranian officers mentioned that they had obtained affirmation from inside Syria that Baghdadi had been killed.
“Our sources from inside Syria have confirmed to the Iraqi intelligence workforce tasked with pursuing Baghdadi that he has been killed alongside his private bodyguard in Idlib after his hiding place was found when he tried to get his household out of Idlib in the direction of the Turkish border,” one of many Iraqi officers mentioned.
Iraqi State Tv mentioned it could broadcast footage from the raid, including that Iraqi intelligence companies had helped pinpoint Baghdadi’s location.
U.S. journal Newsweek, which first reported the information, mentioned it had been instructed by a U.S. Military official briefed on the raid that Baghdadi was useless. It mentioned the operation was carried out by particular operations forces after receiving actionable intelligence.
The Pentagon didn’t instantly reply to a request for remark.
The Britain-based battle monitor the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights mentioned 9 folks have been killed through the two-hour raid, together with two ladies and sure no less than one little one. It didn’t know if Baghdadi was among the many useless.
One home considered the principle goal was badly hit from the air, earlier than fighters descended from helicopters and engaged in floor clashes, mentioned the Observatory, which has a community of sources in Syria.
‘SOMETHING BIG JUST HAPPENED!’
Trump gave a sign that one thing was afoot on Saturday night time when he tweeted with out clarification, “One thing very large has simply occurred!”
White Home spokesman Hogan Gidley introduced late on Saturday that Trump would make a “main assertion” at 9 a.m. EST (1300 GMT) on Sunday. Gidley gave no additional particulars.
Trump has confronted withering criticism from each Republicans and Democrats alike for his U.S. troop withdrawal from northeastern Syria, which permitted Turkey to assault America’s Kurdish allies.
Many critics of Trump’s Syria pullout have expressed worries it could lead the Islamic State militancy to regain energy and pose a risk to U.S. pursuits. An announcement about Baghdadi’s loss of life may assist blunt these issues.
For days, U.S. officers had feared Islamic State would search to capitalize on the upheaval in Syria.
However in addition they noticed a possible alternative, by which Islamic State leaders may break from extra secretive routines to speak with operatives, doubtlessly creating an opportunity for the USA and its allies to detect them.
Baghdadi was lengthy considered hiding someplace alongside the Iraq-Syria border. He has led the group since 2010, when it was nonetheless an underground offshoot of al Qaeda in Iraq.
On Sept. 16, Islamic State’s media community issued a 30-minute audio message purporting to return from Baghdadi, by which he mentioned operations have been happening day by day and referred to as on supporters to free ladies jailed in camps in Iraq and Syria over their alleged hyperlinks to his group. [nL5N2675FC]
Within the audio message, Baghdadi additionally mentioned the USA and its proxies had been defeated in Iraq and Afghanistan, and that the USA had been “dragged” into Mali and Niger.
On the peak of its energy Islamic State dominated over thousands and thousands of individuals in territory operating from northern Syria by means of cities and villages alongside the Tigris and Euphrates valleys to the outskirts of the Iraqi capital Baghdad.
However the fall in 2017 of Mosul and Raqqa, its strongholds in Iraq and Syria respectively, stripped Baghdadi, an Iraqi, of the trimmings of a caliph and turned him right into a fugitive considered shifting alongside the desert border between Iraq and Syria.
U.S. air strikes killed most of his high lieutenants, and earlier than Islamic State printed a video message of Baghdadi in April there had been conflicting experiences over whether or not he was alive.
Regardless of shedding its final vital territory, Islamic State is believed to have sleeper cells around the globe, and a few fighters function from the shadows in Syria’s desert and Iraq’s cities.
Reporting by Ahmed Rasheed and Phil Stewart; extra reporting by Khalil Ashawi in Syria, Daniel Wallis and Steve Holland in Washington, Parisa Hafezi in Dubai, Ahmed Aboulenein in Baghdad and Lisa Barrington; enhancing by Lincoln Feast and Jason Neely