Syrian Kurdish commander says informant inside Baghdadi compound crucial to raid that killed IS leader

Syrian Kurdish commander says informant inside Baghdadi compound crucial to raid that killed IS leader
SDF commander Mazloum Abdi said on Monday that an informant close to IS leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi revealed his location to the US.
3 min read
29 October, 2019
The SDF informant prompted US forces to target Baghdadi, Abdi said [AFP]
A leading Syrian Kurdish general has claimed that intelligence provided by an Islamic State group informant was key to the raid that killed the extremist group's leader this weekend.

Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi killed himself by detonating a suicide vest during the US special forces raid on Saturday. 

Also present at his compound in Syria's northwestern Idlib province was an informant linked to the Kurdish-led Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF), commander Mazloum Abdi told Fox News on Monday.

The SDF, its mortal rival Turkey and Iraq have all previously claimed to have provided key intelligence regarding Baghdadi's location.

Abdi said the Kurdish-led forces had relayed information regarding the IS leader's move to Idlib months ago.

"We told American intelligence on May 15, and together set up a secret cell, which had three Americans in it," he said.

SDF spokesman Mustafa Bali said seperately on Monday that his forces had shares information regarding Baghdadi's location with the US in May.

The informant - apparently loyal to the SDF, which has fought for years against IS, but able to associate with the highest levels of the extremist group - informed the Syrian Kurdish forces of the exact location of Baghdadi's new compound.

They also told the SDF about the tunnels underneath the compound - through which Baghdadi reportedly led US special forces before killing himself - how many people were with the IS leader, and that he was soon planning to move, prompting the US military to act quickly.

An informant so high up in the IS ranks is unheard of.

The informant was safely removed from the compound in Arisha, Idlib, by US military personnel, Abdi added.

SDF-US joint raids

The SDF and US special forces reportedly conducted a second nighttime raid in Jarablus, a city near the Turkish border in northern Syria, on Monday evening.

IS spokesman Abu Hassan al-Muhajir was killed in a US airstrike in Jarablus on Sunday night, Abdi said.

"Al-Muhajir, the right-hand of Baghdadi and the spokesman for IS, was targeted in the village of Ain al-Baydah near Jarablus, in a coordinated operation between SDF intelligence and the US army," the general said on Twitter.

Local activists and Kurdish media reported a second joint raid took place in Jarablus on Monday night.

The raid has yet to be officially confirmed and details are as yet unclear, although Bali said on Twitter "another successful raid targeting and arresting senior ISIS members" had taken place.

Early reports claimed helicopters presumed to belong to US special forces landed near the al-Sheyukh bridge in Jarablus, where they arrested several people reported to be IS members.

The UK-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights (SOHR) reported that "unidentified helicopters" had carried out an operation in the al-Hawy area of Jarablus and near the al-Sheyoukh bridge.

One helicopter landed near the bridge and reportedly arrested an Iraqi family with suspected links to IS, SOHR said.

The National Interest's Matthew Petti reported that a number of joint raids had taken place in Jarablus and Afrin on Monday evening.

Both areas are controlled by Turkey and allied Syrian militias.

The proximity of Baghdadi's compound in Arisha to the Turkish border has already raised questions among critics over why Ankara was apparently unaware of the IS leaders' presence.

The reported targeting of several senior IS officials in territories directly controlled by Turkey is likely to increase concern from critics.

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