Close al-Baghdadi Aide Killed in Joint Operation, Kurdish Commander Says

October 28, 2019 Updated: October 28, 2019

The spokesman for the ISIS terrorist group has been killed in a joint operation between Syrian Kurdish forces and U.S. troops in northern Syria, just hours after the group’s leader, Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, was killed, according to a Kurdish commander.

Mazloum Abdi, the commander of the Kurdish-led Syrian Democratic Forces, described on Oct. 28 how his group cooperated with the U.S. military to target Abu Hassan al-Muhajir. His comments follow a White House speech by President Donald Trump on Oct. 27 in which the president announced the death of Baghdadi during a raid by U.S. forces.

The death of Muhajir has left ISIS without an obvious leader—a major setback for a terror organization that in March was forced by U.S. troops and Kurdish forces out of the last portion of its self-declared “caliphate,” which once spanned a swath of Iraq and Syria.

The operation targeted Muhajir in a village near Jarablus, a town in northwestern Syria, Abdi said. He said it was part of ongoing operations to hunt down ISIS leaders.

The White House and the Pentagon didn’t immediately respond to a request by The Epoch Times for confirmation of Muhajir’s death.

The UK-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights also reported Muhajir’s death, saying he was traveling in a convoy of an oil tanker and a sedan. It wasn’t immediately clear how Muhajir’s identity could have been confirmed, since the bodies of those killed in the attack were charred.

The capturing or killing of the fugitive leader of the ISIS terrorist group was a top national security priority under the Trump administration, the president said from the White House.

Trump noted that no U.S. personnel died in the risky nighttime raid carried out by Special Operations forces in northwestern Syria over the night of Oct. 26. A large number of Baghdadi’s fighters and companions were killed along with him.

Syrian Kurdish forces spokesman Mustafa Bali said his fighters believe Muhajir was in Jarablus to facilitate Baghdadi’s travel to the area, which is administered by Turkey-backed fighters.

“More (ISIS terrorists) remain hiding in the area,” Bali said late on Oct. 27.

Muhajir was also reportedly believed to be a possible successor to Baghdadi.

Trump said that Baghdadi’s identity was confirmed by DNA test results that “gave certain and positive identification.”

U.S. forces stayed in the area for about two hours after the mission was concluded, taking “highly sensitive material and information from the raid,” Trump said. Baghdadi founded and led ISIS for the past five years.

The president told reporters he watched the raid as it happened, along with Vice President Mike Pence and others in the White House Situation Room.

Defense Secretary Mark Esper said in an interview on ABC that Trump made the decision to move against Baghdadi. Esper said there were several options available to Trump with regard to the kinds of operations, with the president deciding to launch a raid.

Esper said there were less than 100 U.S. forces on the ground but others were involved in other parts of the operation.

He said after years of trying to track Baghdadi, they finally got their break after some “very good intelligence work,” adding that they had cooperation from other partners.

“We did have a number of aircraft, different types. I don’t want to get into details but principally the CH-47s helicopters … to put the raid force on the ground and they were on the ground for two-plus hours.

“Our troops are the best in the world. They know what they’re doing. They’ve done this hundreds of times, and it was a brilliantly executed operation. And the president deserves credit for giving it the green light.”

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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