Islamic State leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi is dead. Here’s how the US operation unfolded

US President Donald Trump announced that Islamic State (IS) leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi “blew himself up” after being cornered by United States forces in northern Syria.

“Last night, the United States brought the world’s number one terrorist leader to justice,” Mr Trump said.

He went on to provide graphic details of Baghdadi’s final moments, giving an insight into the covert operation used to bring down the terrorist leader.

This is what we know about how the operation that killed him unfolded.

US President Donald Trump announced that Islamic State (IS) leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi “blew himself up” after being cornered by United States forces in northern Syria.

“Last night, the United States brought the world’s number one terrorist leader to justice,” Mr Trump said.

He went on to provide graphic details of Baghdadi’s final moments, giving an insight into the covert operation used to bring down the terrorist leader.

This is what we know about how the operation that killed him unfolded.

We first got word something was happening…

…When there were reports from US media outlets that an operation had been carried out on Baghdadi.

Mr Trump dropped this tweet:

The operation began on Saturday afternoon (US time) when a team of elite US troops were flown to a compound in Syria’s north-western Idlib province.

The troops were from the Delta Force, one of the US special units mainly focused on counter-terrorism and often deployed to capture high-value targets.

Special operations forces left in eight military helicopters from a US base and flew for more than hour over heavily militarised territory controlled by multiple nations, including Russian and Syrian forces.

Ahead of the raid, the US had to secure permission from Russia, Iraq and Turkey to fly over their airspace, according to Mr Trump and national security adviser Robert O’Brien.

But just before landing at the compound, US forces came under fire. Mr Trump said US aircraft were able to return fire, eliminating the threat before landing safely.

Once on the ground, troops blasted through a wall of the compound because they believed the doors were booby-trapped.

Then ‘all hell broke loose’

That’s how Mr Trump described the troops’ situation, according to CNN.

US forces worked quickly to clear the compound “with people either surrendering or being shot and killed,” Mr Trump said.

Eleven children were removed, uninjured. US soldiers captured and later imprisoned several IS fighters.

Baghdadi fled into a subterranean area of the complex and into a tunnel, dragging three of his young children with him.

Secretary of Defence Mark Esper told CNN US forces called for Baghdadi to surrender but he refused.

Chased by the dogs and confronted by a dead end, Baghdadi ignited his suicide vest, killing himself and his children and causing the tunnel to partially collapse.

Iraqi state television later broadcast night-time footage of an explosion and daytime images of a crater in the ground and what it said was the aftermath of the raid, including torn and blood-stained clothes.

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