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Trump: ISIS leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi is dead -- live updates

Defense Secretary Mark Esper said President Trump approved the raid on Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi this past week with the objective of capturing him or if necessary, killing him. 

"The President approved a raid on the target, Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, and if we didn't capture him, of course, we were going to kill him," Esper said in a pre-taped interview with CNN’s State of the Union with Jake Tapper.

Esper said soldiers tried to get al-Baghdadi to surrender but he killed himself instead, as the President said. 

"We tried to call him out and asked him to surrender himself. He refused. He went down to a subterranean area and in the process of trying to get him out, he detonated a suicide vest, we believe, and killed himself."

According to Esper, US officials presented the President with options this past week.

"The President was taken options this week (he meant last week). He reviewed them, asked some great questions, chose the option that we thought gave us the highest probability of success and confirmation that the head of ISIS would be there and either captured or killed," Esper said

Esper also said there were two minor US injuries to soldiers in the operation. Trump had only indicated a US K-9 was injured. 

"We had two minor casualties, two minor injuries, to our soldiers," Esper said. "They've already returned to duty."

Dan Scavino, the director of social media for the White House, tweeted a photo of President Trump in the Situation Room monitoring developments as US Special Operations forces closed in on ISIS leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi’s compound in Syria.

“President Trump is joined by VP Mike Pence, National Security Advisor Robert O’Brien, left; Secretary of Defense Mark Esper and Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff U.S. Army General Mark A. Milley, and Brig. Gen. Marcus Evans, Deputy Director for Special Operations on the Joint Staff, at right, Saturday, Oct. 26, 2019, in the Situation Room of the White House monitoring developments as U.S. Special Operations forces close in on notorious ISIS leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi’s compound in Syria with a mission to kill or capture the terrorist," Scavino tweeted.
Manuel Balce Ceneta/AP
Manuel Balce Ceneta/AP

President Trump said there were more people left dead than alive after the al-Baghdadi operation. 

He told reporters this morning three children were killed, and there were two wives who died. Those two women had suicide vests on which were not detonated, the President said.

Regarding the confirmation, Trump said al-Baghdadi was one of the last out of the compound. He said 15 minutes after the death there was an on-site test confirming it was al-Baghdadi.

President Trump said he didn’t notify all members of Congress about a raid that killed ISIS leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi on Saturday. 

“We notified some,” the President said, “others are being notified now as I speak.”

 “Washington leaks like I’ve never seen before,” he continued, “There’s no country in the world that leaks like we do. Washington is a leaking machine.”

 Trump said he didn’t want the forces, “greeted with fire power like you wouldn't believe.”

“The only people that knew were the few people that I dealt with.” Trump said. “A leak could have caused the death of all of them.”

President Trump told reporters Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi was under surveillance for a couple of weeks and that 2-3 planned missions were scrapped before the successful one was launched. 

Trump said the US flew over certain Russian airspace during the mission. 

The President said he watched the operation from the Situation Room but would not give more details of what type of feed it was. 

Trump said it was a “very dangerous mission,” regarding flying in and flying out. 

During the mission he said U.S. service members were met with local gunfire, which was eliminated.

"He died like a dog, he died like a coward," Trump said of the ISIS leader.  

In his announcement, Trump thanked Russia, Turkey, Syria, Iraq and Syrian Kurds for helping in the mission. He said the Syrian Kurds gave the US helpful information.

Andrew Harnik/AP
Andrew Harnik/AP

President Trump called the raid on ISIS leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi "impeccable" during a press conference at the White House this morning while sharing details of the mission.

"US Special operations forces executed a dangerous and daring night time raid. In northwestern Syria and accomplished their mission in grand style, the US personnel were incredible," Trump said. "I got to watch much of it. No personnel were lost in the operation. While a large number of Baghdadi's fighters and companions were killed with him."

Trump said the ISIS leader died after igniting a vest he was wearing. The blast killed him and three children.

"He died after running into a dead end tunnel, whimpering and crying and screaming all the way. The compound had been cleared by this time with people either surrendering or being shot and killed. Eleven young children were moved out of the house and are uninjured. The only ones remaining were Baghdadi in the tunnel and he had dragged three of his young children with him. They were led to certain death. He reached the end of the tunnel as our dogs chased him down. He ignited his vest, killing himself and the three children. His body was mutilated by the blast."
Pool
Pool

President Trump confirmed confirmed the death of ISIS leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi this morning during a press conference at the White House.

"Last night the United States brought the world's number one terrorist leader to justice. Abu Bakr al-baghdadi is dead," Trump said. "He was the founder and leader of ISIS. The most ruthless and violent terror organization anywhere in the world. The United States has been searching for Baghdadi for many years. Capturing or killing Baghdadi has been the top national security priority of my administration."

President Trump's announcement this morning comes after ISIS leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi's apparent death emerged.

Trump tweeted late Saturday night that "Something very big has just happened!"

Watch Trump live here.

No US service members were killed in the operation aimed at ISIS leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, a US official told CNN.

From earlier: The ISIS leader is believed to have been killed in a raid conducted by the US military in northwest Syria on Saturday, according to a senior US defense official and a source with knowledge. The final confirmation is pending while DNA and biometric testing is conducted, both sources tell CNN.