ABU Bakr al-Baghdadi, the leader of Daesh, blew himself up during a US military operation in north-west Syria on Saturday Having tweeted that something big had happened, President Donald Trump said in morning television address yesterday that al-Baghdadi had detonated his suicide vest after fleeing into a tunnel, chased by US military dogs.

It is understood that Baghdadi, who came to prominence in 2014 when he announced the creation of a “caliphate” in areas of Iraq and Syria, killed his three children as well as himself in the explosion.

Trump said the two-hour operation was conducted on Saturday night in the province of Idlib, one of the few areas of the country still outside Syrian regime control, and that US officials using DNA testing had confirmed Baghdadi, 48, was among those killed.

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The president said: “US special operations forces executed a dangerous and daring night-time raid in north-west Syria and accomplished their mission in grand style.”

The US special forces travelled to al-Baghdadi’s compound using eight helicopters, which were met with gunfire according to the president. The US troops entered the building by blowing holes in the wall, avoiding the main door which was booby-trapped.

When Baghdadi detonated his vest, Trump said, the tunnel caved in on him.

The president described al-Baghdadi running into a dead-end tunnel pursued by military dogs, “whimpering and crying and screaming all the way”.

He added: “The thug who tried so hard to intimidate others spent his last moments in utter fear, in total panic and dread, terrified of the American forces bearing down on him. He died like a dog, he died like a coward. The world is now a much safer place.”

A number of Baghdadi’s followers also died while others were captured, the president said. The special forces spent two hours in the area, and gathered “highly sensitive material”. Trump added that no US personnel were killed, but one of the dogs was injured.

There is no doubt the killing of al-Baghdadi is seen as a boost to the president, who is facing impeachment proceedings and had been severely criticised for pulling US forces out of Syria.

Later at the press conference, Trump threatened to dump Daesh terrorists at the borders of those European allies like the UK which will not accept their own nationals back.

The National: Donald Trump said the militant leader ‘died like a dog’Donald Trump said the militant leader ‘died like a dog’

Russia, Turkey, Syria and Iraq were thanked for their assistance in the operation – Russia vcacated Syrian airspace to do so – and Trump said he had personally pressured EU countries to take back Daesh members.

“They came from France, they came from Germany, they came from the UK. They came from a lot of countries,” he stated. “And I actually said to them, if you don’t take them, I’m going to drop them right on your border and you can have fun capturing them again.”

Prime Minister Boris Johnson commented: “The death of Baghdadi is an important moment in our fight against terror.”

He added: “But the battle against the evil of Daesh is not yet over.”

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Baghdadi, whose real name was Ibrahim Awwad Ibrahim al-Badri, was often described as the world’s most wanted man.

He was born near Samarra, north of Baghdad, in 1971, and reports suggest he was a cleric in a mosque in the city around the time of the invasion that toppled Saddam Hussein in 2003.

In 2010, he was named as the leader of a loose grouping that included al-Qaeda in Iraq. He rose to prominence when Daesh fighters captured the Iraqi city of Mosul in 2014, after which he declared the “caliphate”. At its peak, it had eight million people held in virtual hostage, with Daesh militants carrying out atrocities on the civilian population on a daily basis.

The US had offered a reward of $25 million for his capture. It is not known if this reward will be paid.