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US officials say Baghdadi buried at sea

(China Daily) Updated: 2019-10-30 07:54

WASHINGTON - US officials said on Monday that the remains of Islamic State group chief Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi were buried at sea, as fresh details surfaced about the US special operations forces raid that led to his death over the weekend.

The US gave Baghdadi, who committed suicide in the raid in northwestern Syria on Saturday night, a burial at sea, ABC News reported.

"His death marks a devastating blow to the remnants of (the IS group)," said US Defense Secretary Mark Esper.

He praised the nearly hundred-strong force that flew in by helicopter to the rural compound in the Idlib region of Syria in a complex mission that required coordination with the Russians, the Kurds, the Turks and the Syrian government to prevent US aircraft from being fired upon.

"They executed the raid in all of its facets brilliantly," Esper said.

Joint Chiefs of Staff Chairman General Mark Milley said no one was injured in the operation.

The team took two men prisoner, and the remains of Baghdadi's body were taken for DNA tests that would confirm his identity, Milley said.

"The disposal of his remains has been done, is complete and was handled appropriately," he added.

Another Pentagon official confirmed that Baghdadi's body was put into the sea at an unnamed location, similar to the 2011 sea burial of al-Qaida leader Osama bin Laden after his death in a US special operations raid in Pakistan.

A Kurdish official said an inside source that Kurdish forces oversaw was responsible for leading the US forces to Baghdadi's hideout, helping to map out the interior of the compound, its staffing, as well as making it possible for them to identify Baghdadi.

"Since 15 May, we have been working together with the CIA to track Baghdadi and monitor him closely," said Polat Can, a senior adviser to the Kurdish-led Syrian Democratic Forces.

The group had an informant who was able to infiltrate Baghdadi's house.

"Baghdadi changed his places of residence very often," Polat Can said.

The inside source also "brought Baghdadi's underwear to conduct a DNA test and make sure (100 percent) that the person in question was Baghdadi himself", he said.

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