New Delhi: As reports of ISIS leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi being killed in an operation conducted by the US military in Syria on Saturday emerged, US President Donald Trump left a cryptic tweet saying ‘something very big happened’, prompting people to connect the dots as official sources have not confirmed anything.
According to the American outlet, Newsweek, Donald Trump had recently approved a special operation raid against ISIS. The Pentagon, however, declined to comment when contacted by AFP.
US President Donald Trump is scheduled to make a major announcement on October 27 (6.30 pm IST), White House deputy press secretary Hogan Gidley announced.
Baghdadi, an Iraqi national, is an ultraconservative cleric who became active in the Islamist insurgency against US forces following the 2003 invasion that toppled Iraqi President Saddam Hussein, reported Newsweek. According to reports, he joined al-Qaeda in Iraq and then rose up the ranks.
According to a report of The Associated Press, al-Baghdadi led IS for the last five years, presiding over its ascendancy as it cultivated a reputation for beheadings and attracted hundreds of thousands of followers to a sprawling and self-styled caliphate in Iraq and Syria. He remained among the few IS commanders still at large despite multiple claims in recent years about his death and even as his so-called caliphate dramatically shrank, with many supporters who joined the cause either imprisoned or jailed.
With a $25 million US bounty on his head, al-Baghdadi had been far less visible in recent years. He was only releasing sporadic audio recordings, including one just last month in which he called on members of the extremist group to do all they could to free IS detainees and women held in jails and camps.
Reuters reported that Iran was informed by sources in Syria that Baghdadi was killed.
A US official told The Associated Press late Saturday that al-Baghdadi was targeted in Syria’s Idlib province. The official said confirmation that the IS chief was killed in an explosion is pending. No other details were available. The official was not authorized to discuss the strike and spoke on condition of anonymity.
(With Agency Inputs)