A raid in the early hours of Sunday targeted ISIS leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi in the early hours of Sunday.
Newsweek reports that Trump approved raid nearly a week ago. Carried out by “1st Special Forces Operational Detachment-Delta (SFOD-D), commonly referred to as Delta Force—a special mission unit under JSOC.” Baghdadi’s wives may have been killed. He detonated a suicide vest or belt.
Explosions in Barisha and Hatan were reported in the morning hours. Helicopters, UAVs and planes also heard.
Around 2 am helicopters were heard near Barisha. “Locals say as many as 6 choppers involved – gave chase to convoy, 2 landed & assaulted vehicles. Possibly took bodies or evidence away.”
One account notes: “Several of the helicopters landed in the town while the other orbited the airspace. Direct clashes took place with small arms and with fire support from the helicopters. After 10-15 minutes, an additional 4 more helicopters joined the initial force. After a total time of 30-45 minutes in the area, the helicopters withdrew, but UAVs lingered in the area. Local Islamist sources confirm that a raid had taken place in the area and that someone important was dead. Now the word is that Abu Bakr al Baghdadi has been killed.”
Another accounts notes at 12:41am: “Breaking: Several attack helicopters coming from Turkey reportedly attacked several Jihadists’ targets in southern Idlib…At first locals said that the helicopters were only flying, later several sources confirmed that they carried out attacks. Some said they responded to AA fire. However, this was also denied by locals. Locals are saying that the helicopters are of the Turkish military. However, there is a good chance the alleged attack was carried out by US-led coalition helicopters. Now locals are saying that the helicopters were chasing a convoy of cars, claiming at least two actually landed … Sounds like a well-planned raid. US coalition is carrying out a well-planned air raid in northern Idlib, west of the town of Barisha, to arrest some senior terrorist figure. Local sources are now saying that 12 helicopters are carrying out attacks on targets west of Barisha. At least two reportedly landed. Eight helicopters came from the direction of Turkish border, began conducting strikes on targets west of the town of Barisha. Warplanes and UAVs are covering the helicopters. At least two of the eight helicopters landed west of Barisha. However, it is unclear if a some special operation is being carried out there now. Additional 4 helicopters joined the force around 15 min into the attack. At least 12 helicopters are now operating west of Barisha.”
By 1:59am there had been clashes and then just UAVs were present.
Another account by Elizabeth Tsurkov: “Tonight’s activities according to Syrian sources: Around 11 PM local time, locals began hearing drone movement, helicopter gunships & bombing of Barisha, Idlib. The area have several HQs of militant groups who use the proximity to the border w/ Turkey to reduce risk of attack. According to locals, the gunfire lasted about 3 hours. Fighters on the ground attempted to hit the helicopters. I’m in multiple jihadist WhatsApp groups & Telegram channels. None have thus far confirmed that ISIS leader Baghdadi was the target. Locals say 5 missiles targeted Barisha, Idlib. Explosions were so powerful the ground shook underneath. The sound of explosion reached all the way to the IDP camps along the Turkish border in Salqin & a-Dana. These locals & Syrian jihadi online groups still don’t know who was hit.”
Timeline of the raid:
Oct 6. Trump orders US to leave part of northern Syria
Oct 9: Turkey launches operation
October 13: Syrian regime invited in by SDF
Oct. 13. Trump orders total withdrawal except Tanf
Oct 17. Pence and Pompeo meet Erdogan, agree 120 hour pause
Oct 22 Putin and Erdogan meet, agree 150 hour ceasefire and deal
Oct 22: Jeffrey at Senate hearing
Oct. 23 SDF’s Mazlum thanks Trump
Oct 26 continued clashes near Tel Tamr, US forced return to guard oil wells
Oct. 27 US raid targets Baghdadi
Want to read about the war on ISIS and how we got here, check out my book After ISIS: America, Iran and the Struggle for the Middle East.