Islamic State leader Baghdadi reportedly killed in Syria by U.S. forces – media
Islamic State leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi is believed to have been killed in a U.S. military operation in Syria, sources in the region said on Sunday and U.S. President Donald Trump was due to make a "major statement" at the White House.
Baghdadi has led IS since 2010, when it was still an underground offshoot of al Qaeda in Iraq, Reuters said.
In recent years Islamic State has lost most of its territory, although it is still viewed as a threat. Baghdadi has long been believed to be hiding somewhere along the Iraq-Syria border and the United States has offered a $25 million reward for his capture.
The raid in the early hours of Sunday involved helicopters, warplanes and ground clashes in the village of Barisha in Syria's Idlib province bordering Turkey, a commander of a militant faction in the region said.
The attack was carried out using eight helicopters, according to observers in the area, in addition to surveillance planes, the commander said.
Two Iraqi security sources and two Iranian officials said they had received confirmation from Syria that Baghdadi had been killed.
"Our sources from inside Syria have confirmed to the Iraqi intelligence team tasked with pursuing Baghdadi that he has been killed with his personal bodyguard in Idlib (province) after his hiding place was discovered when he tried to get his family out of Idlib towards the Turkish border," one of the Iraqi officials said.
Iraqi state television broadcast night-time footage of an explosion and daytime images of a crater in the ground and what it said was the aftermath of the raid, including torn and blood-stained clothes.
Iraqi intelligence agencies had helped pinpoint Baghdadi's location, the broadcaster quoted an expert on terrorism as saying.
The commander of the Kurdish-led Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) said joint intelligence work with the United States had resulted in a "successful operation," in another apparent reference to the raid.