WASHINGTON - The fugitive leader of the Islamic State (IS) group has been killed in a US military operation in northwest Syria, President Donald Trump has said.
Speaking from the White House, Mr Trump said Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi detonated his suicide vest during a raid by special forces late on Saturday.
Baghdadi came to prominence in 2014, when he announced the creation of a "caliphate" in areas of Iraq and Syria.
IS carried out a number of atrocities that resulted in thousands of deaths.
The jihadist group imposed a brutal rule on almost eight million people in the areas under its control and was behind a number of attacks in cities around the world. The US declared the "caliphate" defeated earlier this year.
In an unusual Sunday morning statement, Mr Trump said US special forces executed a "daring night-time raid" and accomplished their mission in grand style.
"He died after running into a dead-end tunnel, whimpering, crying and screaming all the way, Mr Trump said. "The thug who tried so hard to intimidate others spent his last moments in utter fear, in total panic and dread, terrified of the American forces bearing down on him."
No US soldiers had been killed but a number of Baghdadi's followers also died, Mr Trump said, adding that "highly sensitive material and information" had been gathered.(FA)