The Australian government on Monday welcomed the death of ISIS leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, saying he was responsible for ordering ethnic cleansing, sexual slavery and other crimes against humanity.
US President Donald Trump on Sunday announced that Baghdadi blew himself up in his suicide vest as he was chased to the dead-end of a tunnel by the US service dogs during an American raid in northwest Syria.
Australian Foreign Minister Marise Payne called it a “significant blow to ISIS”.
Stating that Baghdadi led a murderous terrorist group responsible for widespread misery and destruction across large parts of Iraq and Syria, Payne said he “also inspired or directed cowardly attacks by ISIS followers against innocent civilians around the world, some of whom were Australian”.
“He was responsible for ordering ethnic cleansing, sexual slavery, and other crimes against humanity,” she said as she thanked the Australian and coalition military forces for helping in the efforts to defeat ISIS.
The minister described Baghdadi’s death as a “significant blow to ISIS” and another important step in preventing its revitalisation.
“It is important to remember his death does not represent the end of the campaign to defeat this terrorist group and the extremism it embodies.
“We honour the courage and sacrifice of Iraqi security forces in the liberation of their land from the ruthless occupation of ISIS. We also restate our deep respect for the Syrian Democratic Forces who have been steadfast and courageous security partners in the counter-ISIS coalition,” Payne added.
Baghdadi came to prominence in 2014, when he announced the creation of a “caliphate” in areas of Iraq and Syria. ISIS carried out a number of atrocities that resulted in thousands of deaths.
President Trump said when the American troops landed in eight helicopters along with specially trained canines, they also had with them a robot, the first of its kind, to go after the ISIS leader inside the tunnel.