Trump” ISIS Leader ‘Died Like A Dog’
WASHINGTON (AP) — The shadowy leader of the Islamic State group who presided over its global jihad and became arguably the world’s most wanted man, is dead after being targeted by a U.S. military raid in Syria, President Donald Trump said Sunday.
“Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi is dead,” Trump announced at the White House, saying the U.S. had “brought the world’s number one terrorist leader to justice.”
Addressing the nation from the White House on Sunday morning, Trump described a daring airborne raid by American special operations forces in Syria’s northwestern Idlib province and said they flew over heavily militarized territory controlled by multiple nations and forces. No U.S. troops were killed or injured in the raid, Trump said.
As U.S. forces bore down on al-Baghdadi, he fled into a “dead-end” tunnel with three of his children, Trump said, and detonated a suicide vest. “He was a sick and depraved man, and now he’s gone,” Trump said. “He died like a dog, he died like a coward.” Al-Baghdadi’s identity was positively confirmed by a DNA test conducted onsite, Trump said.
Trump on late Saturday had teased a major announcement, tweeting that “Something very big has just happened!” By the morning, he was thanking Russia, Turkey, Syria and Iraq, as well as Kurdish fighters in Syria for their support.
The killing of al-Baghdadi marks a significant foreign policy success for Trump, coming at one of the lowest points in his presidency as he is mired in impeachment proceedings and facing widespread Republican condemnation for his Syria policy.
The recent pullback of U.S. troops he ordered from northeastern Syria raised a storm of bipartisan criticism in Washington that the militant group could regain strength after it had lost vast stretches of territory it had once controlled. Trump said the troop pullout “had nothing to do with this.”
Planning for the operation began two weeks ago, Trump said, after the U.S. gained unspecified intelligence on al-Baghdadi’s whereabouts. Eight military helicopters flew for more than an hour over territory controlled by Russian and Syrian forces, Trump said, before landing under gunfire at the compound.
Trump vividly described the raid and took extensive questions from reporters for more than 45 minutes Sunday. He said U.S. forces breached the walls of the building because the doors were booby-trapped and chased al-Baghdadi into the tunnel, which partially collapsed after al-Baghdadi detonated the suicide vest. Trump said a military dog was injured by the explosive blast. He also revealed that U.S. forces spent roughly two hours on the ground collecting intelligence.