Trump says Baghdadi's 'number one replacement' dead
The man most likely to succeed Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi to helm the ISIL terrorist group has been killed by U.S. forces, U.S. President Donald Trump said on Oct. 29.
"Just confirmed that Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi's number one replacement has been terminated by American troops," Trump wrote on Twitter. "Most likely would have taken the top spot - Now he is also Dead!"
The U.S. president did not specify who the individual was, nor give any details on the mission that led to his death.
Trump announced al-Baghdadi's death on Oct. 27 following a late-night special operation raid in northwestern Syria's Idlib province.
In announcing Baghdadi's killing, Trump said the ISIL leader attempted to escape via a tunnel that ultimately was a dead-end, taking three young children with him "to certain death."
But as U.S. forces led by a canine closed in, Baghdadi killed himself and took the lives of the children as the tunnel caved in around him following the explosion.
Trump said he is considering releasing video of the special forces mission, and Joint Chiefs Chairman Mark Milley added that while the U.S. does possess photos and videos of the raid they are currently undergoing a declassification process.
"I think what you'll see here in the coming days is we'll set up some operation and tactical-level briefings by Central Command and you'll be provided some video and photos, etc. of that," he said.
Under Baghdadi, ISIL spread over wide segments of Iraq and Syria beginning in 2013, eventually claiming the formation of a "caliphate" in the region as it plotted and carried out gruesome attacks that reached far beyond its main territorial bastion. It further set up local affiliates in other regions as it released heinous execution videos on to the internet.
Baghdadi had been a top target for both the Trump and Obama administrations, and had a $25 million bounty placed on his head.
As the U.S.-led coalition took back territories once under the terror group's hold, Baghdadi increasingly stayed in the shadows, only rarely releasing pre-recorded audio messages to his followers.