Al-Baghdadi called himself the 'Caliph' (Photo Credit: File Photo)
Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi is believed to dead after an attack by US strike on his hideout in Syria. Citing a senior US defence official and a source with knowledge, CNN reported that the final confirmation is pending while DNA and biometric testing is conducted. ABC news, quoting three US officials, reported that al-Baghdadi was targeted in a strike by US Special Operations Forces on Saturday. The leader of the Islamic State last seen alive in a video in April. According to ABC News, one official said that al-Baghdadi was believed to have detonated a suicide vest he was wearing as the US special unit carried out a ground raid in Idlib. It said that US officials are awaiting final confirmation of his death through fingerprinting or other biometric methods.
"It appears that Baghdadi detonated a suicide vest during the raid," the defense official was quoted as saying. "The CIA assisted in locating him."
Newsweek first reported that the world's most wanted man was believed to have been killed.
The White House had not confirmed the news yet. President Donald Trump is expected to deliver remarks at 9 am EDT (6.30 pm IST) on Sunday. However, no details were provided on what would be included in the president's remarks. Trump was expected to make the statement in the White House diplomatic reception room, which he has used to make a number of major announcements. Last week he used the same room to announce that a ceasefire between Turkey and the Kurds had taken hold.
The president gave an indication that something was afoot earlier on Saturday night when he tweeted without explanation: “Something very big has just happened!”
There had been a USD 25 million bounty on the head of al-Baghdadi, who called himself "Caliph," or leader of all Muslims. US air strikes killed most of his top lieutenants, and before Isis published a video message of Baghdadi in April there had been conflicting reports over whether he was alive.
The video in which al-Baghdadi appeared earlier this year, only his second, showed him discussing losing the group's Baghouz stronghold as well as praising deadly attacks in Sri Lanka. More than 250 people died because of those eight coordinated attacks, which al-Baghdadi claimed were retribution for ISIS being forced from Baghouz. It was the terror group's deadliest mission.