The operation took place on Saturday in the Syrian province of Idlib. Sources with intimate knowledge of the operation confirmed to SOFREP that the assault force came from Delta Force and the 75th Ranger Regiment.
The Army’s elite counterterrorism unit has been operating in the area ever since ISIS became a real threat in 2014. Since then, it has conducted numerous counterterrorism operations and a number of hostage rescue missions. In the campaign against ISIS, Delta has lost two operators: Master Sergeants Joshua Wheeler and John Dunbar.
The Delta assault force launched from Iraq and reached the Syrian village of Barisha, in Idlib province. As the assault team neared the target compound, there was a brief firefight between the assaulters and ISIS terrorists. This allowed al-Baghdadi to detonate his suicide vest, killing three children in the process.
President Trump tweeted on the very early morning hours of Sunday that “Something very big has just happened!” The White House said that the president will be making a statement on Sunday morning.
According to reports obtained by Newsweek, President Trump had authorized the operation almost a week prior to its execution. Although there is little doubt that the Delta team got its man, absolute verification is pending on the DNA testing from the terrorist leader’s body parts.
The compound where the ISIS leader was hiding is located approximately 10 miles from Turkey — a NATO member and U.S. ally. The village is surrounded by Turkish military outposts. The location questions how effective was al-Baghdadi in running his organization or indeed if he was anything more but a notional leader.
An airstrike obliterated the compound to prevent it from becoming a shrine of martyrdom for radical Islamists.
Al-Baghdadi was an Iraqi radical cleric who was active in the Islamist insurgency against U.S. and Coalition forces in Iraq. He was captured by American forces over his affiliation with al-Qaeda in Iraq (AQI), which he later joined, and was incarcerated in the Abu Ghraib and Camp Bucca detention centers.
After his predecessor was killed by a joint U.S.-Iraqi Special Operations force, the radical cleric climbed the greasy pole of power and in 2010 became the leader of the Islamic State of Iraq (ISIS) – which he expanded to the Islamic State of Iraq and al-Sham (the Levant) in an attempt to encroach into the neighboring countries, which were experiencing severe social unrest as a result of the Arab Spring. In Syria, that unrest turned in to a bloody civil war. He had a $25 million bounty on his head.
We’ll keep you updated as the story develops.