(COLOMBO, LANKAPUVATH) –ISIS leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi is believed to have been killed in a raid conducted by the US military in northwest Syria on Saturday, according to a senior US defense official and a source with knowledge.
The final confirmation is pending while DNA and biometric testing is conducted, both sources tell CNN.
The defense official said it appears that Baghdadi detonated a suicide vest during the raid.
The CIA assisted in locating the ISIS leader, the defense official said.
Newsweek first reported that Baghdadi was believed to have been killed.
President Donald Trump is scheduled to make a major announcement Sunday at 9 a.m., White House deputy press secretary Hogan Gidley announced. An administration official tells CNN that the announcement is foreign policy related.
The Pentagon did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
Baghdadi, the leader of the terror group, has been in hiding for the last five years. In April, a video was published by the ISIS media wing al-Furqan that showed a man purporting to be Baghdadi. It was the first time Baghdadi has been seen since July 2014, when he spoke at the Great Mosque in Mosul.
In February 2018, several US officials said Baghdadi had been wounded in an airstrike in May 2017 and had to relinquish control of the terror group for up to five months because of his injuries.
Baghdadi became the leader of Islamic State of Iraq (ISI) in 2010. In 2013, ISI declared its absorption of an al Qaeda-backed militant group in Syria and Baghdadi said that his group will now be known as Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant (ISIL or ISIS).
White House officials were at the White House late Saturday evening in preparation.
One official told CNN the announcement will be in the Diplomatic Reception Room.
Trump stoked speculation when he tweeted Saturday evening “something very big has just happened!” (Courtesy CNN)