President Donald Trump says Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi is dead after a U.S. military operation in Syria targeted the Islamic State group leader.
Trump says in a statement to the nation from the White House’s Diplomatic Room that “al-Baghdadi is dead” – fulfilling the top national security priority of his administration.
He says no U.S. personnel were lost in the mission.
Al-Baghdadi presided over IS’s global jihad and became arguably the world’s most wanted man.
The announcement comes as Trump has been on the receiving end of bipartisan criticism in Washington following the recent pullback of U.S. troops from northeastern Syria. Critics fear that move will allow the militant group to regain strength after it had lost vast stretches of territory it had once controlled
The president says during remarks from the White House’s Diplomatic Room that al-Baghdadi spent his last moments in utter fear and claims that the IS leader was “whimpering and crying” and died as “a coward, running and crying.”
Trump had teased the announcement with a tweet Saturday night, declaring that “Something very big has just happened!”
He says the U.S. received immediate and positive identification on the body and that the world is now a much safer place.
Trump says that watching the raid that killed Islamic State group leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi in Syria as it was underway felt “as though you were watching a movie.”
And he’s suggesting that the video be released to the public to dissuade al-Baghdadi’s followers.
Trump says that he watched much of the mission unfold from the White House Situation Room on Saturday night.