US Says ISIS Leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi Killed in Raid

Pentagon has 'high confidence' Baghdadi was slain

US officials are reporting that a Saturday special operations raid against northwestern Syria killed a “high-value” target, and that the Pentagon has “high confidence” that they had killed ISIS leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi.

Baghdadi has been reported killed or gravely wounded several times in the past, only to reemerge unharmed. The Pentagon suggested that further verification is pending, but that the man believed to be Baghdadi killed himself with a suicide vest after a brief firefight.

President Trump declared “something very big has just happened” on Twitter, and White House officials say he is planning an official announcement of Baghdadi’s death for 9:00 AM on Sunday morning.

The leader of ISIS since 2010, Baghdadi has been considered one of the highest value targets on the US list ever since. This would have been a much bigger deal when ISIS was an active force in Iraq or Syria, but is still significant to the group’s operations. It has never been entirely clear who would replace Baghdadi, despite his regularly being reported taken out of action.

It’s also not clear what this will mean for the US war in Syria, though since the war has already been transitioning to being about controlling Syria’s oil, which probably won’t be changed by this killing.

Author: Jason Ditz

Jason Ditz is news editor of Antiwar.com.