President Donald Trump declared Sunday morning that ISIS leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi was dead after a U.S. military raid in northwest Syria over the weekend, CNN reported.
“Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi is dead,” Trump said at the White House, calling the ISIS leader’s removal “the top national security priority of my administration.”
Trump said a U.S. special operations forces mission went after the ISIS leader and there were no U.S. deaths during the operation.
Several ISIS fighters and companions of al-Baghdadi were killed, including two women wearing suicide vests and three children. Trump would not provide a specific number of casualties, only describing those targeted on scene as “more dead than alive.” Eleven children were moved out of the house and are uninjured, the President said.
The death of al-Baghdadi marks the culmination of a years-long hunt to find one of the most wanted terrorists in the world and the man who declared a so-called Islamic caliphate in Iraq and Syria in 2014. But it also comes as the U.S. military is pulling back in Syria, a move analysts warn could allow for an ISIS resurgence.
But Trump insisted that al-Baghdadi’s demise had nothing to do with the U.S.’s recent decision to pull out of northern Syria. “No, the pullout had nothing to do with this. In fact we found this out at a very similar time,” Trump said. “No, we’re after these leaders, and we have others in site.”