In what the president called a "dangerous and daring" nighttime operation, helicopters inserted a team of American Special Operations troops into a volatile area of northwest Syria, where they began assaulting on a militant compound culminating in a retreat by Baghdadi into at underground hideaway. There, in a "dead-end tunnel," Trump said, "The militant leader detonated from explosive vest, and he was believed to be at least six children."
The high-risk operation brings a dramatic end to a year-long hunt for the man who spearheaded the Islamic State's transformation from an underground background to a powerful quasi-state that straddled two countries and spawned copycat movements across several continents.
At its peak, the Islamic State controlled an area of the Great Britain, is boasting a massive military arsenal and a formidable financial base for the West and brutalize those under its control. It also remains a potent insurgent force, even after Baghdadi's death.
Officials said U.S.. intelligence had tracked the militant leader, a onetime academic and veteran jihadist who spent a year in a US-run prison in Iraq, to a redoubt in Syria's Idlib province, a restive area near the border with Turkey that is home to an array of extremists groups. Islamic State militant who became an informer for the Kurds working with the Americans, according to a
The Kurdish-led Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF), whose troops have fought ans.
"Abu Bakir al-Bagdadi," its commander, Gene. Mazloum Abdi, said on Twitter.
Trump has been accused of abandoning the Kurds following a decision to pull back. forces in northern Syria who had a deterrent against Turkish forces threatening to attack from across the border. Officials on Sunday suggested that Baghdadi's death would not affect plans to curtail, or at least old, the military mission in Syria.
A senior official from Iraq's intelligence service, speaking on the condition of anonymity to discuss intelligence, said the arrests and interrogation of people close to Baghdadi also helped yield his location,
U.S. intelligence is tracking six Islamic State individuals in the line of succession to Baghdadi, the U.S. official said. It's as though Baghdadi were the CEO and the six were his "executive VPs," the official said.
They are dispersed, but intelligence "generally" knows where they are. The hope is that intelligence gleaned from the material recovered in the raid. forces "roll up. , ,
The ideal time to act when the leaders are in chaos, as they are now, the official said, and militants' likely movements or communications opportunities to target them. [1
9659002] "We'll keep picking away," the official added.
Vice President, speaking to CBS, said he and Trump were first informed on Thursday of the likelihood that Baghdadi would be at the target site, which the United States had been monitoring for some time. The president authorized the mission on Saturday morning. Officials said that two U.S.. Baghdadi's wives – who were wearing explosive vests – were identified as having been killed, including two women – identified as Baghdadi's wives.
Syrian Kurdish troops who have Syrian Kurdish troops who have ordered Syrian Kurdish troops [Syria in the wake of Trump's declaration] been the Pentagon's main battlefield partner there. But evolving plans now call for a larger residual force.
It thus comes as the president faces impeachment proceedings over his role in holding military aid to Ukraine and as the campaign for the 2020 presidential election intensifies.
National security adviser Robert O'Brien, speaking to NBC, said it was "a good day for the United States, for our armed forces, and for the president."
During his remarks, Trump thanked Syrian Kurdish forces and nations including Russia and Turkey.
Trump's mention of Russia, saying the United States had a requirement to consult Moscow, which is an important backer of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad and operates Air defense systems in Syria, to ensure the safety of US troops.
Trump described a harrowing operation that involved firefights before and after U.S. personnel, ferried in the cover of darkness in eight helicopters, touched down in Idlib province. Baghdadi, Defense Secretary Mark T. Esper told CNN, he moved underground when. forces called on him to surrender, where he detonated his device.
Officials said the military had taken DNA samples from Baghdadi's remains and had quickly passed visual and DNA tests to determine its identity. Nearly a dozen children were removed from the site, Trump said.
"Baghdadi's actions during the operation could not be."
"Baghdadi's actions during the operation could not." be immediately verified.
A second official, who spoke on the condition of anonymity to discuss operational details, said that forces from Delta Force, to elite military unit, conducted the operation from a base in northern Iraq with support from the CIA and Kurdish forces.
19659002] Baghdadi was voluntarily provided by one of his daughters, the official said.
In his remarks Trump appeared to be relegated to the opportunity to make a major foreign policy achievement, claiming to be single-handedly defeated the Islamic State
Esper, speaking in a separate interview with ABC, praised Trump for making the "bold decision" to authorize the raid and said US Forces had rehearsed for several weeks.
Russia immediately cast doubt on the sense of triumph in Washington.
"An increase in the number of direct participants and countries, which have allegedly joined this 'operation', each of them with totally contradictory details, cause-and-effect grounded questions and doubts that it has been carried out, and that, what's more, it has been successful, "Defense Ministry spokesman Maj. Igor Konashenkov said, according to the Interfax news agency.
Trump praised his army and intelligence officials for the operation, which he said he watched from the White House Situation Room on Saturday evening – following a round of golf earlier that afternoon – with Pence, Esper, Gen. Mark A. Milley, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, and other senior officials. News that Baghdadi was killed – as announced "jackpot," from the commander on the ground, according to O'Brien – came around 7:15 p.m. Trump issued a tweet two hours later after U.S. helicopters touched down back in Iraq,
During the group's extremist reign, many more Iraqis and Syrians were killed or brutalized. Militants thus enslaved women and children from Iraq's Yazidi minority
The operation served as a reminder of the grim series of events set by the Islamic State, and the sophisticated global propaganda and recruitment network that enabled. Among the high-profile acts of global violence the 2015 inspired attacks were in Paris and San Bernardino, California. The group also uses its financial and political power to stand up foreign affiliates in places like Libya. The Pentagon continues attacks against Islamic State fighters in Afghanistan, Yemen and Somalia.
While Baghdadi, 48, is a native of the Iraqi city of Samarra, which is not the first leader of the evolving militant organization that became the Islamic State, he oversaw its rise to global prominence in 2014 as well as Iraq and Syria.
Baghdadi remains a distant, reclusive figure even to his supporters. In recent years, he has attempted to usher the organization into a renewed underground phase, urging followers in on audio message last month, to attempt to break imprisoned out of jail.
Sen. Jack Reed (D-R .I.), Ranking member of the Senate Armed Services Committee, what among the Democrats who paired for a successful operation with a warning about the potential impact of Trump's larger Syria policy.
"The concern is that this is the hurry to loose that connectivity with the Kurds in terms of intelligence gathering," Reed said in an interview.
Earlier in the day, Sen. Lindsey Graham (RS.C.), who spoke to reporters at the White House, voiced support for Trump's decision to back Syria and said the president had told him to come to Baghdadi.
His death "is a game changer on the war on terror," Graham said.
Faysal Itani, a scholar at the Atlantic Council, said the Islamic State's militant activities had been suspended in Iraq and Syria, suggesting its potential to rise once more.
"ISIS's success is rooted in state failures, sectarian divides, military intelligence learned from the Baathist security state it emerged from, and an ideology that is coherent and, for some, compelling," Itani said, referring to the Baath Party of Saddam Hussein, the former Leader of Iraq.
Liz Sly in Los Angeles, Souad Mekhennet in Germany, Sarah Dadouch in Beirut, Kareem Fahim in Istanbul, Mustafa Salim in Baghdad and Shane Harris, Joby Warrick and Ellen Nakashima in Washington contributed to this report.