ISIS leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi believed to have been killed in Syria

Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, who has led the Islamic State of Syria and Iraq (ISIS) since 2014, is believed to have been killed in Syria, a source told CBS News.

The White House said late Saturday that President Trump would be making a “major statement” Sunday at 9 a.m. ET.

Al-Baghdadi, who has rarely been seen in public, appeared in a video in April for the first time in five years.

The video, released by ISIS’ media network, showed al-Baghdadi with a bushy grey and red beard and seated with a machine gun next to him.

That was his first video appearance since 2014, when he delivered a sermon at the al-Nuri mosque in the Iraqi city of Mosul.

In December 2016, the U.S. State Department raised its reward to $25 million for information on al-Baghdadi, making him one of the most wanted terrorists in the world.

Al-Baghdadi’s death comes just days after the U.S. announced it would be sending additional troops into Syria to protect oil fields from ISIS.

Thursday’s announcement was a reversal of Mr. Trump’s earlier decision to pull U.S. forces from the area, which sparked a Turkish cross-border offensive earlier this month, and raised concerns that ISIS could regain strength.

Kurdish forces in northern Syria had been the main U.S. allies in the fight against ISIS.

Mr. Trump’s decision to withdraw troops from Syria was criticized by Republican and Democratic leaders.

Mr. Trump tweeted earlier Saturday night “something very big has just happened!”

ISIS leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi believed to have been killed in Syria
This image made from video posted on a militant website on Monday, April 29, 2019, purports to show the leader of the Islamic State group, Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, being interviewed by his group’s Al-Furqan media outlet./ AP

Al-Baghdadi was born in 1971 and claimed to have been descended from the Prophet Muhammad, reports CBS News’ Holly Williams.

After the U.S. invasion of Iraq in 2004, al-Baghdadi was detained in a prison camp that became an incubator for jihadis.

Released a year later, he joined al Qaeda’s offshoot in Iraq, rising to become its leader, before moving into the chaos of Syria’s civil war, and renaming his group ISIS.

At its peak, ISIS ruled over an estimated 10 million people in Iraq and Syria, enslaving women, performing public executions, and expanding its reign of terror to Europe and the US.

CBS news

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