NEW YORK, Oct 27 (APP): A “high value” target believed to be ISIS/Da’esh leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi was killed in a United States (US) raid in Syria Saturday, according to news reports.
US Defence Department officials told the White House Saturday it had “great confidence” that Baghdadi was killed in the raid, Newsweek reported, citing Army sources.
Fox News reported a “well-placed military source” had confirmed to the network that Baghdadi, who reportedly had a US $ 25 million bounty on his head, was killed in the raid.
The White House and US military officials have not commented on these and other accounts.
But Trump posted on Twitter at 9:23 p.m. (06:23 am PST Sunday) that “Something very big has just happened.”
He posted no further tweets early Sunday.
The White House did say in a press statement that the president would announce “major news” at a press conference scheduled for 9 a.m. Sunday.
President Trump approved the raid targeting Baghdadi, one of America’s most sought-after terror targets, several days ago, according to Newsweek.
The CIA assisted in locating the terror leader, CNN reported.
Baghdadi has been in hiding for five years. He became the leader of the militant group in 2010.
A video published in April by al-Furqan, ISIS’s media wing, may now be the last recorded image of Baghdadi.
US officials said Baghdadi was wounded in an airstrike in May 2017 and had to relinquish control of the terror group for five months.
Earlier this year, ISIS/Daesh, which has been heavily weakened on the battlefield, made an attempt at a public rations blitz by publishing a series of videos of terror group fighters pledging allegiance to Baghdadi.
The clips were meant to prove “that ISIS/Da’esh has not been defeated and that its militants in several parts of the world remain loyal to their leaders,” Voice of America reported earlier in the year.
But the Islamic State has taken heavy losses in recent years, with the US relying on Kurdish militias in the region to help obliterate the terror group.
In January, the group claimed responsibility for an attack in Manbij, Syria, that killed 15, including four Americans.
Trump’s decision earlier this month to withdraw US forces from northern Syria — and stand aside as Turkish troops began military operations against Kurdish-held areas — raised concerns that ISIS/Daesh would seize the opportunity.
On Friday, US officials acknowledged that troops were returning to Syria amid concerns that oil fields there could fall into ISIS’ hands.