Washington / Barisha The president of the United States, Donald Trump, announced today the death of the leader of the Islamic State, Abu Bakr al Baghdadi, in a military operation in his country in northwestern Syria. "Abu Bakr Al Bagdadi is dead," Trump said in a statement to the nation from the White House.
WATCH HERE THE LIVE BROADCAST:RELATED
"Last night the United States did justice with the world's number one terrorist," Trump added.
►The mystery about the whereabouts of the "most wanted man in the world"
►The head of the Islamic State appears on video for the first time in five years
►Abu Bakr al Baghdadi, the enigmatic head of the Islamic State
Abu Bakr al Baghdadi committed suicide with a belt of explosives at the end of a tunnel after being persecuted during the action of the American commandos.
"He died like a dog, like a coward," said the president.
Trump congratulated the US special forces and intelligence services for a "very, very dangerous operation."
The president also thanked the collaboration of Turkey, Russia, Syria, Iraq and the Kurds to locate the head of the Islamic State.
As indicated on Sunday by the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights (OSDH), which has an extensive network of informants on the ground, US commands were left by helicopters in the province of Idlib (Syrian northwest), in an area where there were “groups close to the Islamic State. ”
The operation was aimed at senior leaders of the Islamic State, "said the NGO, which places it near the town of Barisha (Idlib).
The White House announced, without giving details, that Trump "will make a very important announcement" this Sunday at 09:00 (13:00 GMT). Shortly before that announcement, the president had said on Twitter. "Something huge has just happened!"
Mazlum Abdi, head of the Syrian Democratic Forces (SDS) dominated by Kurdish fighters – allies of Washington in the fight against the Islamic State – said on Twitter that the operation was the result of a “joint information with the United St ates” , without confirming the death of Baghdadi.
Also Turkey – which carried out an offensive against the Kurds in northern Syria – said Sunday that there was a “coordination” and “exchange of information” between Ankara and Washington before the operation.
If the operation were confirmed, it would be the most important one directed against a high jihadist leader since the death, on May 2, 2011, of Osama bin Laden, the leader of Al Qaeda killed by US special forces in Pakistan.
Syrian children stand by a burned vehicle in the area where the leader of the Islamic State would have been killed.
(AFP / Omar HAJ KADOUR) .OMAR HAJ KADOUR | AFP- “Panic among the people” –
According to the OSDH, the airstrikes launched against the jihadists left nine dead in Idlib. Eight helicopters fired at a house and a car outside Baricha, he said.
"We cannot confirm or deny the presence of Baghdadi," said the head of the OSDH, Rami Abdel Rahman.
An inhabitant contacted by AFP in the Barisha area said he had heard helicopters and then aircraft attacks a few minutes after midnight.
A vehicle burned at the site where, reportedly, a helicopter attack killed nine people near the village of Barisha in northwestern Syria. (AFP / Omar HAJ KADOUR) .OMAR HAJ KADOUR | AFP
"The planes were flying at a very low height, causing great panic among people," Ahmed al Hassaui, a displaced person in one of the informal camps near Barisha, told AFP.
According to him, "the operation lasted at least until 03:30 in the morning" on Sunday.
"There is a destroyed house, tents and a damaged civil vehicle with two dead inside," Abdelhamid, another inhabitant of Barisha, told AFP.
An AFP correspondent was able to see on the outskirts of Barisha the housing of a charred minibus, destroyed by bombing.
AFP.- Public appearance in 2014 –
Abu Bakr al Baghdadi has given no sign of life since an audio recording broadcast in November 2016, after the start of the Iraqi offensive to retake Mosul, in which he asked his men to fight until they became martyrs.
It was in Mosul where the leader of the Islamic State made the only public appearance known in July 2014 at the Al Nuri mosque.
Dressed in black and with a turban, the jihadist with a beard trained then called on all Muslims to swear allegiance after being appointed head of the caliphate proclaimed by the Islamic State in the vast territories he had conquered in Iraq and in neighboring Syria.
Baghdadi, whose real name is Ibrahim Awad al Badri, was supposedly born in 1971 in a poor family in the Baghdad region. Passionate about football, he failed in his attempt to be a lawyer and then military, and began studying theology.
During the US invasion of Iraq in 2003, he created a jihadist group without much impact, before being arrested and imprisoned in the gigantic Bucca prison.
Released for lack of evidence against him, he joined a group of Sunni guerrillas linked to al Qaeda and led him years later. Taking advantage of the chaos of the civil war, their fighters settled in Syria in 2013 and from there launched an offensive in Iraq.
The group, which changed its name to Islamic State, took the place of Al Qaeda. His initial military successes and effective propaganda led thousands of people to enlist in their ranks. The Islamic State has claimed numerous bloody attacks worldwide.
Source: AFP / EFE