ISIS chief died "like a dog", Trump confirms Baghdadi's death

Says Baghdadi killed three children and himself in suicide blast

US President Donald Trump looks at the crowd after speaking during the 74th Session of the United Nations General Assembly at UN Headquarters in New York | AFP File photo of US President Donald Trump | AFP

On Sunday, the White House announced that a “major statement” was to be made by President Donald Trump, who tweeted at 6.53am that “something very big has happened.”

News reports had trickled in on Saturday of claims that ISIS leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi had been killed in a nightime raid in northeastern Syria, with unnamed US defence officials saying the cleric blew himself up with his own suicide-vest.

At a press conference held shortly after 9am EDT, Trump announced the big news: Baghdadi had been killed, detonating his explosive-laden vest in a tunnel while being chased by dogs sent by US forces, after US special forces launched a raid on his residence and killed several of the terrorist's fighters.

“I got to watch much of it. No personnel were lost in the operation, while a large number of Baghdadi’s fighters and companions were killed with him. He died after running into a dead-end tunnel, whimpering and crying and screaming all the way. The compound had been cleared with people either surrendering or being shot and killed."

"Young children were moved out of the house and are uninjured. The only ones remaining were Baghdadi and the tunnel and he had dragged three of his young children with him. They were led to certain death. He reached the end of the tunnel as our dogs chased him down."

"He ignited his vest killing himself and the three children. His body was mutilated by the blast, the tunnel had caved in on it in addition. But test results gave certain immediate and totally positive identification. It was him.”

According to Trump, the operation involved gunships, and took place over two hours. The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said that US forces fired upon the compound containing Baghdadi and his men for two hours, issuing orders to surrender in Arabic over loudspeakers. Trump said that a dog was hurt, but no US soldiers, and that the final death toll of Baghdadi's fighters would be released soon. 

Trump said that the operation was comprised of US forces only, but there was help from Turkey, Syria, Russia as well as from the Kurds. Trump said that Russia had been informed that the US were coming in as it involved flying over their territory, that Turkey knew they were going in, and that the Kurds had provided some information that turned out to be helpful—although he later responded to a question saying that the operation was done mostly with US intel with "very little help". Trump said, "I want to thank the nations of Russia, Turky, Syria and Iraq, and I also want to thank the Syrian Kurds for certain support they were able to give us."

He spoke on the crimes ISIS had committed, including the killing of Jame Foley, the genocide of the Yazidis, the public burning of a Jordanian pilot and others, to say that they were "the most depraved organisatison in the history of our world."

"The thug who tried so hard to intimidate others spent his last moments in utter fear, in total panic and dread, terrified of the American forces bearing down on him. We were in the compound for approximately two hours and after the mission was accomplished we took highly sensitive material and information from the raid much having to do with ISIS, origins, future plans... Things that we very much want," Trump said.

Referring to the killing of Hamza Bin-Laden, Osama Bin Laden's son, last month, Trump said that these "savage monsters" will not escape their fate and that "they will not escape the final judgement of god."

"Baghdadi has been on the run for many years, long before I took office, but in my direcition ,as commander in chief of the us, we obliterated his caliphate 100 per cent, in March of this year. Today's events are another reminder that we will continue to pursue the remaining ISIS terorrists to their brutal end. That also goes for other teorrirst organisations."

Trump, however, added that the raid would not influence his decision to pull the remaining US forces out of Syria, saying that "ISIS fighters are hated as much by Russia and some of these other countries as they are by us. That’s why I say they should do some of the fighting now."

Trump added that he wished kids and people around the world who see the operation and Baghdadi's final moments, restating that he died like a coward, "whimpering and screaming."

He concluded his speech, saying, "He died like a dog, he died like a coward. The world is now a much safer place. God bless America."