“Last night, the United States brought the world’s number one terrorist leader to justice. Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi is dead,” Trump said at a press conference at the White House.
“U.S. personnel were incredible, I got to watch much of it. No personnel were lost in the operation,” added Trump.
Trump thanked Turkey, Russia, Syria, and Iraq for their cooperation.
Baghdadi died after exploding a suicide vest, and killed his three children with him, according to the U.S. president.
Baghdadi has long been sought by the U.S., as head of a terrorist group that at one point controlled large areas of Syria and Iraq, declaring a caliphate. ISIL has carried out atrocities against religious minorities and attacks on five continents.
Turkey yesterday said there was “coordination” between Ankara and Washington before the operation. “Prior to the U.S. Operation in Idlib Province of Syria last night, information exchange and coordination between the military authorities of both countries took place,” the Turkish Defense Ministry said in a tweet.
“To the best of my knowledge, Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi arrived at this location 48 hours prior to the raid. We have been in close coordination with the relevant parties,” a senior Turkish official told AFP.
“The Turkish military did have advance knowledge of last night’s raid,” the official said, while stating that “I can neither confirm nor deny that any intelligence was shared to facilitate last night’s operation.”
The official added: “We will continue to coordinate our actions on the ground.”
Baghdadi has led ISIL since 2010, when it was still an underground offshoot of al-Qaeda in Iraq. In recent years ISIL has lost most of its territory, although it is still viewed as a threat. Baghdadi has long been believed to be hiding somewhere along the Iraq-Syria border and the U.S. has offered a $25 million reward for his capture.
The raid in the early hours of involved helicopters, warplanes and ground clashes in the village of Barisha in Idlib province bordering Turkey.
The attacking U.S. forces removed the body of Baghdadi, and that of another man believed to be his deputy, a commander of a militant faction in the region said. The bodies of three other men and three women were also found, he said.
Two Iraqi security sources and two Iranian officials said they had received confirmation from Syria 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 with his personal bodyguard in Idlib [province] after his hiding place was discovered when he tried to get his family out of Idlib,” one of the Iraqi officials said.
Hurriyet Daily News