Al-Baghdadi, the chief of the Islamic State. (Photo Credit: File)
US helicopters dropped fighters in Syria's Idlib province overnight in an operation targeting Islamic State group leaders, including Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, a war monitor said Sunday.
"US helicopters dropped fighters on the ground before clashes broke out with jihadists," the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said, after US media reports that IS supremo Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi had been killed in the same area.
The war monitor said the airborne operation in Barisha, a small village in northwestern Syria near the border with Turkey, targeted senior IS members.
Al-Baghdadi, the elusive chief of the Islamic State, was reportedly killed in a raid conducted by the US special forces in northwest Syria on Saturday. Citing a senior US defence official and a source with knowledge, CNN reported that Baghdadi detonated a suicide vest during the raid.
"The CIA assisted in locating him," the official was quoted as saying. The final confirmation is pending while DNA and biometric testing is conducted.
Meanwhile, White House deputy press secretary Hogan Gidley said President Donald Trump will make a "major announcement" on Sunday morning.
Quoting an administration official, CNN said the announcement is foreign policy related.
"Something very big has just happened!" Trump earlier tweeted, without elaborating.
Newsweek first reported that the world's most wanted man was believed to have been killed. President Trump approved the mission nearly a week before it took place, it said.
Citing a senior Pentagon official familiar with the operation and Army official briefed on the matter, it said Baghdadi was the target of the top-secret operation in the last bastion of Syria's Islamist-dominated opposition.
The Pentagon official said there was a brief exchange of fire when US forces entered the compound in Idlib's Barisha village and that Baghdadi then killed himself by detonating a suicide vest.
The official said the compound in which Baghdadi was located was then taken out with an airstrike.
Quoting Pentagon sources, Newsweek said two wives of Baghdadi were killed after detonating their own explosive vests.