How US planned operation to kill Islamic State leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi

Updated: Oct 28, 2019, 03:32 PM(IST)

Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, the elusive leader of the Islamic State group and the world's most wanted man, was killed by US Delta force commandos near a village in northwestern Syria in a joint operation by Russia, Syria, Turkey, Iraq and Kurdish SDF.

Two weeks planning & eight helicopters used

United States President Donald Trump claims that planning for the operation began two weeks ago after the US gained unspecified intelligence on Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi's whereabouts.

Eight military helicopters flew for more than an hour over the territory controlled by Russian and Syrian forces before landing under gunfire at the compound.

Trump said that during the confrontation, Baghdadi fled into a “dead-end” tunnel with three of his children and detonated a suicide vest.

Al-Baghdadi's identity was positively confirmed by a DNA test conducted onsite.


'Coordinated operation'

Trump said Turkey, which has been waging an offensive against the Syrian Democratic Forces in northeast Syria and with which the US partnered to combat IS, was given advance notice of the operation. 

Iraqi forces claim that it was their information that led to his killing.

Meanwhile, Syrian Kurdish forces say that it was their joint intelligence with the US that led to Baghdadi's killing.




Dead 'like a dog'

United States President Donald Trump on Sunday confirmed the death, stating that he had been killed, dying "like a dog" in a daring nighttime raid by US special forces in northwest Syria.

Trump told the nation in a televised White House address that no US personnel were killed in the operation but a "large number" of IS militants were killed during the raid, which culminated with Baghdadi cornered in a tunnel, where he detonated a suicide vest.

"He died after running into a dead-end tunnel, whimpering and crying and screaming all the way," Trump said, adding that three of Baghdadi's children were also killed in the blast.

Trump said the raid, was carried out with cooperation from Russia, Syria, Turkey and Iraq. He also thanked the Syrian Kurds "for a certain support they were able to give us."


$25 million reward

Baghdadi, an Iraqi native believed to be 48 years old, was rarely seen.

After 2014 he disappeared from sight, only surfacing in a video in April with an assault rifle at his side, as he encouraged followers to "take revenge" after the group's territorial defeat.

His reappearance was seen as a reassertion of his leadership of the Islamic State. 

The US State Department had posted a $25 million reward for information on his whereabouts.


Tyranny of Islamic State

At its height, IS controlled a swath of Iraq and Syria in a self-declared caliphate, brutally imposing a puritanical version of Islam.

The group planned or inspired terrorism attacks across Europe, while using social media to lure foreign volunteers.

It took years of war, during which IS became notorious for mass executions and sickening hostage beheadings, before its final slice of territory in Syria was seized this March.


Credibility of operation

Baghdadi's death has been reported several times over the years.

Trump said there was no doubt this time, with a DNA field test confirming his identity. 

Defense Secretary Mark Esper, who issued a statement hailing "a great day for America and a great day for the world", told CNN the raiding team had both visual and DNA confirmation.

House speaker Nancy Pelosi demanded that her chamber be briefed on the raid and on Trump's broader regional policies, adding that top congressional leaders were not told in advance. 


Helicopters targeted a home and a car in Barisha

The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights had reported that US helicopters dropped forces in an area of Syria's Idlib province where "groups linked to the Islamic State group" were present.

The monitoring group, based in Britain but with sources in Syria, said the helicopters targeted a home and a car outside the village of Barisha.

The house appears to have been reduced to a mound of bricks and rubble. 


Nine dead in nighttime raid

The operation killed nine people, including an IS senior leader called Abu Yamaan, as well as a child and two women, it said.

A nearby resident said he rushed to the site after hearing a ruckus in the night.

"The home had collapsed," he said, and there were two bodies in the burned hulk of a car. 

An inhabitant of a nearby camp for the displaced said he had heard helicopters and air strikes.

Though other jihadists operate there, the area is nominally under the control of Hayat Tahrir al-Sham, an Al-Qaeda affiliate.


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