Damascus, Oct 27 : A US-led airstrike that targeted the hideout of Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, leader of the Islamic State (IS) militant group, in Syria's northwestern province of Idlib was intended to capture him alive before the IS leader detonated his explosive vest, a war monitor reported Sunday.
The operation, carried out by eight helicopters and warplanes, led to the killing of nine people, including al-Baghdadi himself, his wife and a number of children, said the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights. Al-Baghdadi was hiding in the house in the west of the village of Barisha in Idlib, the London-based watchdog added.
Citing eyewitnesses, the Observatory said the US troops pulled out a body after the operation, which is likely to be al-Baghdadi's. US media also said al-Baghdadi was killed in the operation in Syria as President Donald Trump is expected to make a statement later in the day.
Meanwhile, the pan-Arab al-Mayadeen TV cited Iraqi sources as saying the Iraqi intelligence provided vital information that helped pinpoint the location of al-Baghdadi. The Iraqi official TV aired video footage showing a big hole in the ground and a levelled house purporting to be the aftermath of the airstrike.
Al-Baghdadi was said to have been wounded on March 18 2015 during a US-led coalition airstrike on the al-Baaj District in the northern province of Nineveh near the Syrian border.
His wounds were apparently so serious that the top IS leaders had a meeting to discuss who would replace al-Baghdadi if he died.
His latest appearance was in an 18-minute video posted online in April by IS media, in which al-Baghdadi vowed to continue fighting despite the loss of his group's self-proclaimed caliphate in Iraq and Syria. Al-Baghdadi, 48, whose real name is Ibrahim Awad al-Badri announced the establishment of a caliphate, or the so-called Islamic State, in June 2014.
In 2016, the US State Department offered a reward of up to 25 million US dollars for information leading to his capture or death. (UNI)