The Latest: Trump hails military strike on Islamic State

WASHINGTON (AP) — The Latest on Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, the leader of the Islamic State group who was killed in a U.S. military raid in Syria, according to President Donald Trump (all times local):

5:40 p.m.

Australia’s prime minister has welcomed the death of Islamic State leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi but says it does not end the campaign “to defeat this terrorist group and the extremism it embodies.”

Prime Minister Scott Morrison says in a statement the death is “a significant blow” to the Islamic State group and “another important step in preventing its revitalization.”

Morrison says al-Baghdadi inspired or directed cowardly attacks by Islamic State group followers against “innocent civilians around the world, some of whom were Australian.”

4:15 p.m.

The Prescott, Arizona parents of slain American hostage Kayla Mueller say they have mixed emotions about the death of Islamic State leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi.

Their daughter was a humanitarian aid worker who was kidnapped and taken hostage in August 2013 after leaving a Doctors Without Borders hospital in Aleppo, Syria.

Mueller’s death was reported in February 2015 and U.S. intelligence officials told her family four months later that she was raped repeatedly by al-Baghdadi.

Carl Mueller told The Arizona Republic on Sunday that al-Baghdadi “either killed her or he was complicit in her murder.”

Marsha Mueller says she wants to know what truly happened to her daughter “and what aren’t we being told.”

Kayla Mueller’s body has yet to be recovered.


1:10 p.m.

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi is criticizing the White House for failing to notify congressional leaders before the U.S. raid in Syria that President Donald Trump says killed the leader of the Islamic State group.

She notes that the U.S. let Russia know the raid was in the works.

Trump said U.S. military helicopters flew over territory controlled by Russian and Syrian forces before landing at Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi’s compound. He also said he kept lawmakers out of the loop because he was fearful of leaks.

Pelosi says the Trump administration must brief Congress on the operation and on the administration’s overall strategy for the Mideast.

Before the 2011 raid in Pakistan that killed al-Qaida leader Osama bin Laden, the Obama administration did give advance word to the top two Democrats and Republicans in the House and Senate as well as the four leaders of the congressional intelligence committees.


12:45 p.m.

President Donald Trump says European nations have been a “tremendous disappointment” in what he says is their unwillingness to bring home captured Islamic State fighters from their home countries.

He’s renewing his threat to release imprisoned fighters at their borders.

Trump has repeatedly and publicly pressed Europe to take back their large numbers of imprisoned fighters, but that push has been met by some resistance.

The U.S. has said it wants to lead by example and several captured fighters have been returned to America for prosecution.


12:40 p.m.

The Russian Defense Ministry is expressing skepticism about President Donald Trump’s announcement that Islamic State leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi has been killed in a U.S. raid in Syria.

The ministry says in a statement that there were no recorded airstrikes in the Idlib zone on Saturday where the operation is said to have taken place.

Trump said U.S. military helicopters flew over territory controlled by Russian and Syrian forces before landing at al-Baghdadi’s compound.

The Russian statement says the ministry is unaware of “any alleged assistance to the passage of American aircraft into the airspace of the Idlib de-escalation zone during this operation.”

It also suggested that al-Baghdadi’s presence in that area would be unlikely because the territory is controlled either by the Syrian government or by an al-Qaeda affiliate that is an IS rival.


12:15 p.m.

Vice President Mike Pence is disclosing more details about the U.S. military raid that killed Islamic State leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi in Syria.

Pence says that by Thursday afternoon, he and President Donald Trump learned that there was “a high probability” that al-Baghdadi would be at his compound in Syria’s Idlib province.

Pence tells CBS’ “Face the Nation” that Trump directed commanders to come up with military options and present them to him on Friday morning.

Pence says that by Saturday morning, “we received the actionable intelligence” that allowed the operation that Trump had approved to go ahead.

And it was on Sunday morning when Trump told the nation that the raid had resulted in al-Baghdadi’s death.


12:05 p.m.

The head of the foreign affairs committee in Russia’s upper house of parliament says the death of Islamic State leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi would be welcome news, but he’s playing down its possible impact in the fight against terrorism.

Konstantin Kosachev is pointing out that President Donald Trump’s announcement Sunday in Washington that al-Baghdadi was killed in a U.S. military raid in Syria isn’t the first time the leader’s death has been reported.

Kosachev says “countering terrorism is a much more difficult task than the physical destruction of its leaders, even the most implacable.”


10:30 a.m.

Some information is emerging about how the United States might have been able to track Islamic State leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi.

A senior Iraqi intelligence official says that a few months ago, an Iraqi aide to al-Baghdadi was killed in western Iraq by a U.S. airstrike. The official says the aide’s wife was arrested in the operation and handed over by the Americans to Iraqi authorities.

The official says the wife ended up being a key source of information on al-Baghdadi’s whereabouts and that through her, the Iraqis ultimately were able to pass along to the United States coordinates on al-Baghdadi.

A second Iraqi security official says al-Baghdadi’s brother-in-law was recently arrested by the Iraqis and also helped with information about Abu Bakr’s whereabouts

The officials weren’t authorized to publicly discuss intelligence operations and spoke on condition of anonymity.

—Associated Press writer Qassim Abdul-Zahra in Baghdad.


10:25 a.m.

Israel’s prime minister is congratulating President Donald Trump for the “impressive achievement” of killing Islamic State leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi.

Benjamin Netanyahu says the U.S. military operation “reflects our shared determination with the United States and all the free nations to combat terrorist organizations and terrorist states.”

Netanyahu spoke during a tour of an Israeli air force base shortly after Trump announced at the White House that Baghdadi was killed in a U.S. military raid in Syria.


10 a.m.

President Donald Trump says the U.S. military raid that took out Islamic State leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi is a bigger deal than the 2011 killing of Osama bin Laden during the Obama administration.

Trump is detailing the operation during an announcement at the White House.

The president acknowledges that the death of bin Laden was significant, but he believes the news about al-Baghdadi is even bigger news.

Trump says that bin Laden didn’t become a global name in terrorism until the attacks of Sept. 11, 2001. The president says that’s in contrast to al-Baghdadi, who Trump says is responsible for building a caliphate.


9:55 a.m.

President Donald Trump says an on-site DNA confirmed that Islamic State leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi was killed in a U.S. military raid in Syria.

Trump is sharing extensive details from the mission during a televised address from the White House on Sunday.

He says debris from the tunnel where Bakr al-Baghdadi blew himself up in using an explosive vest made it difficult to get to his body.

But Trump says Americans were able to move the debris and confirm al-Baghdadi’s identity.

Trump says those involved in the raid “brought body parts” back with them, even though there “wasn’t much left” of al-Baghdadi’s body.

He says “they have his DNA. More of it than they want.”


9:45 a.m.

President Donald Trump says that watching the raid that killed Islamic State group leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi in Syria as it was underway felt “as though you were watching a movie.”

And he’s suggesting that the video be released to the public to dissuade al-Baghdadi’s followers.

Trump says that he watched much of the mission unfold from the White House Situation Room on Saturday night.

Trump says at the White House on Sunday that the U.S. had al-Baghdadi under surveillance for several weeks. He says that during the raid, U.S. forces flew low and fast, and were met with gunfire at points.

Trump is also suggesting that the footage of the raid may be released publicly so that the world knows al-Baghdadi spent his final moments “crying, “whimpering” and “screaming.”


9:40 a.m.

President Donald Trump says Islamic State group leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi died after running into a dead-end tunnel and igniting an explosive vest, killing himself and three of his young children

Trump is describing the U.S. raid in Syria that killed perhaps the world’s most wanted man.

The president says during remarks from the White House’s Diplomatic Room that al-Baghdadi spent his last moments in utter fear and claims that the IS leader was “whimpering and crying” and died as “a coward, running and crying.”

Trump had teased the announcement with a tweet Saturday night, declaring that “Something very big has just happened!”

He says the U.S. received immediate and positive identification on the body and that the world is now a much safer place.


9:25 a.m.

President Donald Trump says Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi is dead after a U.S. military operation in Syria targeted the Islamic State group leader.

Trump says in a statement to the nation from the White House’s Diplomatic Room that “al-Baghdadi is dead” — fulfilling the top national security priority of his administration.

He says no U.S. personnel were lost in the mission.

Al-Baghdadi presided over IS’s global jihad and became arguably the world’s most wanted man.

The announcement comes as Trump has been on the receiving end of bipartisan criticism in Washington following the recent pullback of U.S. troops from northeastern Syria. Critics fear that move will allow the militant group to regain strength after it had lost vast stretches of territory it had once controlled


8:40 a.m.

A senior Turkish official says that “to the best of my knowledge,” Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi arrived at a location in Syria 48 hours before the U.S. military raid that’s believed to have targeted the Islamic State group leader.

The Turkish official says in a written statement Sunday that there’s been “close coordination” among relevant parties and that the Turkish military had advanced knowledge of the raid.

Turkey’s army said earlier in a tweet that it had “information exchanged and coordination” with U.S. military authorities before the operation.

The U.S. raid with helicopters took place in the Barisha area north of Idlib city — a few kilometers from the Turkish border.


2:10 a.m.

Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, the shadowy leader of the Islamic State group, had a $25 million U.S. bounty on his head.

He’d kept a low public profile in recent years, releasing only sporadic audio recordings. In a recording just last month, he called on members of the extremist group to do all they could to free IS detainees and women held in jails and camps.

That purported audio was his first public statement since last April, when he appeared in a video for the first time in five years.

The video included images of the IS leader sitting in a white room with three others. He praised Easter Day bombings that killed more than 250 people and called on militants to be a “thorn” against their enemies.

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