Abu Bakr Al-Baghdadi, one of the world’s most wanted terrorists, was amongst those targeted and killed in a recent raid by American forces, reports said on Sunday.
The special operation targeted several leaders of the deadly Islamic State near Barisha, Syria, overnight, with troops launching helicopters, jets and drops to trap and kill the wanted terrorists.
Although a forensic analysis of those killed in the attack had commenced, Newsweek was the first to report that Mr Al-Baghdadi was amongst those believed killed, citing military sources.
Other media reports have corroborated Newsweek with additional details of how American troops first arrived by air and then began gathering intelligence on the ground.
No reports of American casualties during the overnight raid, which had been deemed one of the most daring since the 2011 operation that killed Osama Bin Laden.
The news came hours after President Donald Trump tweeted that “something very big has just happened.” He is expected to make an announcement by 9:00 a.m. in Washington, the White House said, without providing additional details.
For years, Mr Al-Baghdadi, 48, had terrorised countries with his jihadist campaign, leading different cells of insurgents. Previous reports once said he was killed in American drone strikes, but they were not confirmed like the latest report.
He has led Islamic State since 2010, and once boasted from the pulpit of the great medieval mosque in Mosul in 2014 to declare himself the leader of a new caliphate in the Middle-East.
After being away from public glare for a long time, Islamic State released an 18-minute video which included Mr Al-Baghdadi look-alike sitting cross-legged on the ground with an assault weapon.