Alwaght- The US army reportedly has conducted a special operations raid against ISIS ringleader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi.
According to a senior Pentagon official familiar with the operation and Army official briefed on the matter, a "high value ISIS target" - believed to be Baghdadi - was targeted during a top-secret operation in Syria's northwestern Idlib province on Saturday, Newsweek reported.
The Joint Special Operations Command carried out the raid after receiving actionable intelligence, according to sources familiar with the operation.
The senior Pentagon official told Newsweek that a brief firefight happened when US forces entered the compound, but then Baghdadi killed himself by detonating a suicide vest.
According to Pentagon sources, two Baghdadi's wives were killed in the raid, but no children were harmed.
The Defense Department told the White House they had "high confidence" that the target killed was Baghdadi, who was long thought to hiding somewhere along the Iraq-Syria border.
US President Donald Trump, who approved the mission nearly a week before it took place, posted a Twitter message hinting at "very big" news.
Something very big has just happened!
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) October 27, 2019
According to the White House, the president is expected to make a "major statement" Sunday at 9:00 a.m. local time.
Meanwhile, Iraq says it was informed by sources in Syria that the ringleader had been killed, according to two Iraqi security sources who spoke to Reuters on Sunday.
"Our sources from inside Syria have confirmed to the Iraqi intelligence team tasked with pursuing Baghdadi that he has been killed alongside his personal bodyguard in Idlib after his hiding place was discovered when he tried to get his family out of Idlib towards the Turkish border," said one of the sources.
The apparent attack on Baghdadi came after Trump announced on October 6 that the US would be withdrawing its forces from northeastern Syria, clearing the path for an expected Turkish incursion into the region.
Three days later, Turkey launched the offensive with the aim of purging the northern Syrian regions near its border of US-backed Kurdish militants, whom it views as terrorists linked to local autonomy-seeking militants of the Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK).
Trump, later however, rowed back on the withdrawal decision, announcing that a continent of US special forces would be left in Syria to control its oil fields.
The Pentagon announced Thursday that the US will deploy troops to "protect oil fields" in northeast Syria with the help of Kurdish militants.
"The US is committed to reinforcing our position, in coordination with our Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) partners, in northeast Syria with additional military assets to prevent those oil fields from falling back into the hands of ISIS or other destabilizing actors," a defense official said in a statement.
Syria has been gripped by foreign-backed militancy since March 2011. The Syrian government says the Israeli regime and its Western and regional allies are aiding Takfiri terrorist groups that are wreaking havoc in the country.