Islamic State

Islamic State Leader Killed During US Raid In Syria

President Donald Trump confirmed Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi was successfully targeted by the US in the Idlib province.

The leader of the so-called Islamic State group (IS) has been killed by the United States Special Forces in Syria, US President Donald Trump has announced.

Making a statement from the White House, Mr Trump confirmed the death of Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi during an American military raid in north-western Syria.

"Last night, we brought the world's number one terrorist leader to justice," said Mr Trump.

Following a manhunt lasting the entirety of his three-year administration, Mr Trump watched from the Situation Room in Washington as eight helicopters carried American troops into the compound hosting Baghdadi.

In his statement, Mr Trump said the IS leader was pursued through a dead-end tunnel, taking three of his children with him, following a two-hour raid.

Graphic detail was given in the description of the IS leader's death - he detonated an explosive vest, killing himself and the three children.

President Trump watched the mission take place alongside US officials in Washington (Picture: @WhiteHouse/Twitter).

The mission was carried out by elite US fighting forces - and benefitted from the support of Russia, Turkey, Iraq and Syria.

According to Mr Trump, eight military helicopters flew low and fast through Russian and Turkish territory whilst carrying out the mission - which took advantage of Kurdish intelligence.

According to the US President, the IS leader "died like a dog and a coward" during the operation, which started two weeks ago, after the US obtained new intelligence regarding his location.

The aircraft were said to have come under fire upon their arrival at the compound, but quickly eliminated the threat. Troops were said to have destroyed walls to avoid doorway traps during the breach.

Mr Trump praised the US forces involved, none of whom were injured - with the exception of a military dog that chased the target through the tunnels before the suicide explosion.

The video of the mission shown to Mr Trump and US officials, "as though you were watching a movie", was suggested for release - to dissuade potential IS recruits from joining the group.

Following the announcement, Mr Trump faced further questions over the decision to evacuate US troops from northern Syria, leaving behind the Kurdish-led Syrian Democratic Forces - before a cross-border offensive from Turkey amid fears of a resurgent IS.

The withdrawal of troops was not related to the operation targeting al-Baghdadi, the White House's Diplomatic Room heard.

President Trump teased the announcement on social media, saying "Something very big has just happened!"

The confirmation of Baghdadi's death supersedes that of Osama Bin Laden's, announced by former US President Barack Obama in 2011, according to Mr Trump.

Heads of other terrorist organisations were also warned by the US President: "These savage monsters will not escape their fate," he said.

Mr Trump continued to say that the "losers" who worked for al-Baghdadi had "no idea what they were getting into".

The US Secretary of State, Mike Pompeo, said: "While there is still work left to do to ensure ISIS’s enduring defeat, Baghdadi’s death follows the path of scores of other ISIS leaders that have been removed from the battlefield and can no longer commit heinous atrocities or spread their vile ideology of hatred to poison and recruit vulnerable minds."

IS-led executions in recent years were addressed in the statement.

Baghdadi had led IS for the last five years - during its ascendancy and growing notoriety, which was achieved through broadcasted beheadings.

A large following led to the formation of a self-styled caliphate in Iraq and Syria, which was defeated in March this year.

Mr Trump said the elusive IS leader was in north-western Syria in an attempt to rebuild the group.

Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi had successfully avoided capture several times, until now - his influence instrumental in multiple terrorist attacks in the heart of Europe and in the United States.