CENTCOM rejects claims Turkey’s anti-terror op in Syria delayed al-Baghdadi raid

DAILY SABAH
ISTANBUL
Published 31.10.2019 00:59
Updated 31.10.2019 09:58
U.S. Marine Corps Gen. Kenneth McKenzie, commander of U.S. Central Command, participates in a press briefing October 30, 2019 at the Pentagon in Arlington, Virginia. (AFP Photo)
U.S. Marine Corps Gen. Kenneth McKenzie, commander of U.S. Central Command, participates in a press briefing October 30, 2019 at the Pentagon in Arlington, Virginia. (AFP Photo)

The commander of the U.S. Central Command (CENTCOM), Kenneth F. McKenzie, rejected claims late Wednesday that Turkey's Operation Peace Spring delayed the raid on the ringleader of the Daesh terrorist group Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi.

Answering a question regarding the claims, he said "Absolutely not. We chose the time based on a variety of factors."

Al-Baghdadi was killed in a U.S. military operation in Syria, U.S. officials announced on Oct. 27.

Daesh's notorious leader al-Baghdadi declared a self-proclaimed "caliphate" across large parts of Syria and Iraq in 2014.

Under his leadership, the terrorist group took control of large swathes of land in Iraq and Syria and carried out deadly attacks inside both countries and abroad.

Al-Baghdadi had been a top target for both the Trump and Obama administrations and had a $25 million bounty on his head.

As the group lost ground, al-Baghdadi kept a low profile and rarely released statements.

His presence in the village, came as a surprise, as some Daesh leaders are believed to have fled to Idlib after losing their last sliver of territory in Syria to the U.S.-allied Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) in March.

Over the years, he has been reported multiple times to have been killed, but none have been confirmed. In 2017, Russian officials said there was a "high probability" he had been killed in a Russian airstrike on the outskirts of Raqqa, but U.S. officials later said they believed he was still alive.

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