The leader of ISIS is believed to have been killed in a secretive US military operation, media reports suggest.
Iranian officials told Reuters that Tehran had been informed of Baghdadi’s death by Syrian officials “who got it from the field.”
The White House has not confirmed the ISIS leader’s killing, but said President Donald Trump would have a “major announcement” at 9 a.m. Sunday morning local time. No other information about the announcement was provided.
The secret operation targeting Baghdadi was reportedly approved by Trump earlier this month. There were reports Saturday of US military helicopters over Syria’s northwestern Idlib province.
A team from the Joint Special Operations Command carried out the operation after receiving actionable intelligence, sources told Newsweek. The location had been under surveillance for some time. A senior US defence official told CNN that the CIA had assisted in locating the ISIS leader.
Trump appeared to cryptically hint at the news in a tweet, writing that “something very big just happened,” however did not elaborate.
The ISIS leader has been in hiding for the past five years. In April, a video was published by the ISIS media wing al-Furqan that showed a man purporting to be Baghdadi.
Several U.S. officials said Baghdadi had been wounded in an airstrike in 2017 and had to give up control of the terror organisation for several months. He became the head of ISIS in 2010.