Witnesses recall US op that ‘killed’ Daesh/ISIS head

IDLIB, Syria

U.S. operation killing Daesh/ISIS ringleader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi left witnesses who talked to Anadolu Agency about the moments of the operation.

On Sunday, U.S. President Donald Trump announced that Baghdadi had been killed in a U.S. operation in Syria bringing “the world’s number one terrorist leader to justice”.

A total of eight U.S. helicopters and two unmanned aircraft joined the operation which lasted for four hours.

“Helicopters arrived at 11 p.m. (2100GMT). First, the helicopters were fired from the ground. Then one of the helicopters bombed the scene.

Two helicopters unloaded soldiers and several other helicopters were flying over the soldiers,” said Halit Neccar, a witness of the operation.

Neccar said they hid under the stairs in fear and heard the soldiers who got off a helicopter, talking to a civilian instructing him to leave the region.

“Four explosions shook the village, said Neccar, adding that they saw burnt, unidentifiable bodies.

“We noticed further mobility in about half an hour. Helicopters were responding to the fire from the ground, which continued until 3.30 a.m. (0130GMT).

The first operation took about 2.5 hours. We didn’t hear helicopters after that, but heard four severe explosions five minutes later,” another witness Ahmed Muhammed told Anadolu Agency.

“The houses, up to two kilometers [1.2 miles] off the area, were destroyed.

“There were bodies and body fragments all over the ground,” he added.

The Turkish National Defense Ministry confirmed in a tweet on Sunday that the U.S. and Turkish authorities shared information and coordinated before the start of the operation to kill the Daesh/ISIS ringleader.

Baghdadi’s whereabouts and status have long been a mystery, and multiple claims have been made that he was killed in various battlefields in Iraq or Syria.

Trump thanked Turkey, Russia, Syria and Iraq for their cooperation in the raid, further saying Ankara was “terrific,” and noting U.S. forces “flew over” some Turkish territory during the mission.

Turkey recognized Daesh/ISIS as a terrorist organization in 2013.

Since then, Turkey has been attacked by Daesh/ISIS terrorists numerous times, including in 10 suicide bombings, seven bombings, and four armed attacks.

These attacks killed 315 people, including 11 police officers and two soldiers — and injured 137 civilians, 62 police officers and seven soldiers.

In response to these attacks, Turkey launched anti-terror operations at home and abroad.

In two cross-border military operations in Syria since 2016, Euphrates Shield and Olive Branch, Turkey neutralized 3,500 Daesh/ISIS terrorists and arrested 5,500.

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