United States President Donald Trump (FILE)
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WASHINGTON – Fugitive Islamic State leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi died “whimpering and crying” in a raid by United States special forces in northwest Syria, President Donald Trump announced yesterday, in what he called a major victory over the jihadist group.
Baghdadi killed himself during the raid by detonating a suicide vest after fleeing into a dead-end tunnel, Trump said in a televised address from the White House.
He was positively identified by DNA tests 15 minutes after he died, the president said.
“He was a sick and depraved man and now he’s gone,” said Trump, adding that capturing or killing Baghdadi had been the top national security priority for his administration.
The death of Baghdadi is a severe blow to Islamic State, which has been in disarray and has no declared successor as leader yet. But the group has in the past proved resilient, continuing to mount or inspire attacks in the region and beyond despite losing most of its territory in recent years.
Trump said “many” of Baghdadi’s people were killed in the raid and added that in blowing himself up, Baghdadi also killed three of his children.
US forces suffered no personnel losses, he said. He also thanked Russia, Turkey, Syria and Iraq for their support. (Reuters)