IS leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi killed in US raid in Syria, Donald Trump says

Islamic State leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi has been killed in a US military raid, Donald Trump has confirmed.

Speaking at the White House on Sunday, the President said the IS leader “died like a dog, he died like a coward” in an operation on Saturday evening.

Mr Trump said he had watched the operation unfold by video “so clearly” that it was “almost like a movie”, later adding that Al-Baghdadi died while “crying, whimpering and screaming”.

"Last night, the United States brought the world's number one terrorist leader to justice. Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi is dead," he said.

U.S. President Donald Trump announced the operation in a press conference on Sunday. (Reuters)

“He will never again harm another innocent man, woman or child.

“He died like a dog. He died like a coward. The world is now a much safer place. God bless America. Thank you.”

Mr Trump said US intelligence forces had followed him for weeks before the incident on Saturday, and that “many people” had been killed in the final raid.

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He added that “two or three efforts were cancelled” before Saturday’s operation, which saw eight helicopters land “in a friendly port, in a friendly country” - although he refused to disclose the specific location.

According to Mr Trump, the US team “were greeted with a lot of firepower” but Baghdadi was surrounded by airpower and “we lost nobody”.

He said Al Baghdadi was chased “into a dead-end tunnel” where he detonated a suicide vest and killed himself and three of his children.

Earlier on Sunday, Newsweek quoted unnamed sources as saying the raid was carried out by special operations forces after they received "actionable intelligence".

Trump had earlier tweeted in the early hours of Sunday: “Something very big has just happened!”

Al-Baghdadi has led the IS terror group for the last five years and has remained at large with a £19.5 million bounty on his head despite several claims that he had been killed, which later turned out to be untrue.

He is believed to be responsible for encouraging jihadists who couldn’t travel to the caliphate to kill people where they were.

IS released a video of a man it claimed to be Baghdadi earlier this year - the first time he had been seen in five years.

Before that, the leader’s last public appearance was when he delivered a sermon at Mosul’s Great Mosque of al-Nuri in 2014 in which he declared the creation of a "caliphate" across parts of Syria and Iraq.

Since then he has released audio recordings, including one last month in which he called on members of IS to do all they could to free IS detainees and women held in jails and camps.

In the US, some extremists have pledged their allegiance to al-Baghdadi on social media including Tashfeen Malik, who alongside husband Syed Rizwan killed 14 people and injured 22 in a mass shooting in San Bernardino, California, in 2015.

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