US President Donald Trump on Sunday said that elusive Islamic State leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi was killed, dying “like a dog,” in a daring, nighttime raid by US special forces deep in northwest Syria.
Trump told the nation in a televised address from the White House that US forces killed a “large number” of Islamic State fighters during the raid which culminated in cornering Baghdadi in a tunnel, where he set off a suicide vest.
“He ignited his vest, killing himself,” Trump said.
“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 also died in the blast.
Trump said that the raid — which required flying more than an hour by helicopter in both directions from an undisclosed base — had been accomplished with help from Russia, Syria, Turkey and Iraq.
Special forces “executed a dangerous and daring nighttime raid in northwestern Syria and accomplished their mission in grand style.”
At its height, Islamic State-controlled swaths of Iraq and Syria in a self-declared state known as a caliphate, characterized by the brutal imposition of a puritanical version of Islam.