AT Monitoring Desk
KABUL: Abu Bakr Al-Baghdadi, the leader of the Islamic State (IS) group was reportedly killed in an operation by U.S. forces in Syria, U.S., Western Media Reported on Sunday.
A U.S. official told The Associated Press late Saturday that al-Baghdadi was targeted in Syria’s northwestern Idlib province. The official said confirmation that the IS chief was killed in an explosion is pending. No other details were available. The official was not authorized to discuss the strike and spoke on condition of anonymity.
Later in the dame day US president, Donald Trump officially confirmed the news in a press conference.
Meanwhile, sources have told CNN that Al-Baghdadi is believed to have detonated a suicide vest during the raid.
U.S. President Donald Trump has shared a puzzling tweet saying, “Something very big just happened!”
The White House said that Trump would be making a “major statement” on Sunday in this regard.
The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, a Syria war monitor, reported an attack carried out by a squadron of eight helicopters accompanied by a warplane belonging to the international coalition on positions of the Hurras al-Deen, an al-Qaida-linked group, in the Barisha area north of Idlib city, after midnight on Saturday. IS operatives are believed to be hiding in the area, it said.
It said the helicopters targeted IS positions with heavy strikes for about 120 minutes, during which jihadists fired at the aircraft with heavy weapons. The Britain-based Observatory, which operates through a network of activists on the ground, documented the death of 9 people as a result of the coalition helicopter attack. It is not yet known whether al-Baghdadi is one of them, it said, adding that the death toll is likely to rise due to a large number of wounded.
Al-Baghdadi’s presence in the village, which is a few kilometers away from the Turkish border, would come as a surprise, even if some IS leaders are believed to have fled to Idlib after losing their last territories in Syria to U.S.-allied Kurdish forces in March. The surrounding areas are largely controlled by a rival of the Islamic State group — the al-Qaida-linked Hayat Tahrir al-Sham, or HTS — although other jihadi groups sympathetic to IS operate there. Unverified video circulated online by Syrian groups appeared to support the Observatory claim that the operation occurred in Barisha.