The world’s most wanted terrorist, Islamic State group leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, was the target of a deadly U.S.-led raid in northwestern Syria, sources told NBC News early Sunday.
Forensic testing is underway, but officials believe al-Baghdadi is among the dead, the sources said.
A U.S. Special Ops mission targeted the ISIS leader near Barisha, Syria, overnight in a mission that included helicopters, jets and U.S. drones. The U.S. fired from the air and then landed and gathered intelligence, the sources said. Several others were also killed in a convoy.
There were no reports of U.S. casualties.
Newsweek was the first to report the raid.
The White House has said the president will make a statement at 9 a.m. Sunday. It did not provide additional details.
President Donald Trump appeared to foreshadow the news on Twitter late Saturday. “Something very big has just happened!” he posted.
Until April, al-Baghdadi had not been seen for five years.
That month, ISIS released an 18-minute video in which a bearded man resembling al-Baghdadi appeared sitting cross-legged on the ground with an assault-style weapon propped up against a wall and praised terrorists who carried out Easter bombings of churches in Sri Lanka.
For years, reports have circulated questioning whether al-Baghdadi is alive. Some reports have claimed that he was killed in U.S. ordered-drone strikes, while others said he was hiding out in remote regions of Syria or Iraq.
Al-Baghdadi has led ISIS since 2010. He stood at the pulpit of the great medieval mosque in Mosul in 2014 to declare himself caliph, sovereign over all Muslims.
Source :NBC News