Islamic State has confirmed the death of its leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, days after President Donald Trump announced the terrorist leader was killed during a U.S. military raid in Syria.
The militant group's Amaq news agency said Abu Ibrahim al-Hashimi al-Qurashi has been named the new Islamic State leader. It also confirmed the death of IS spokesman Abu Hassan al-Muhajir, who U.S. officials said was killed in an operation in Jarablus, near Syria's border with Turkey, that was conducted a day after the one targeting Baghdadi.
The military operation against Baghdadi took place Saturday.
U.S. military officials have said the raid on Baghdadi was months in the making, a culmination of intense surveillance, human intelligence and, finally, because the right opportunity presented itself.
General Kenneth F. McKenzie, the commander of U.S. Central Command, who oversaw the mission, told reporters he gave the special operations team the go-ahead at 9 a.m. EDT (1300 UTC) Saturday, after having fully briefed the president.
The special operations team then staged the final assault from Syria, flying to the location of Baghdadi’s hideout in Barisha, near the Turkish border, accompanied by drones, attack helicopters and fighter jets, he said.
Upon their arrival at the site, about 10 to 15 fighters from nearby compounds, possibly thinking they were under attack, began firing at the U.S. forces and were killed.
U.S. forces then approached the compound, calling for those inside to surrender. One group, including 11 children, came out and were moved away from the site after being checked for weapons and explosive devices.
Once inside, U.S. forces shot and killed four women and one man, all believed to be suicide bombers, after they refused requests in Arabic to stop, McKenzie said.
It was at that point the U.S. team came upon Baghdadi, who fled into a tunnel before killing himself.
National Security correspondent Jeff Seldin contributed to this report