U.S. troops have successfully taken down the top replacement for Islamic State leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, according to President Donald Trump.
“Just confirmed that Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi’s number one replacement has been terminated by American troops,” Trump tweeted Tuesday. “Most likely would have taken the top spot - Now he is also Dead!”
The Pentagon referred questions about the tweet to the White House, which did not immediately provide additional information when contacted by Military Times. The State Department also did not provide comment on the record to Military Times.
It’s unclear who Trump was specifically referring to, however, the Wall Street Journal reported Monday that ISIS’s spokesman Abu Hassan al-Muhajir was killed in a strike in northeast Syria. An anonymous U.S. official told the Journal that al Muhajir “would have been one of the potential successors” to al-Baghdadi.
Syrian Democratic Forces, the anti-ISIS coalition the U.S. has backed, also announced Sunday that al-Muhajir was dead. Mazloum Abdî, the commander of the SDF, said Sunday he “was targeted in a village named Ein al Baat near Jaraboul city, the mission was conducted via direct coordination of SDF Intel & US military.”
Trump’s tweet comes after he announced that al-Baghdadi had been killed in a military raid in Syria that involved at least eight helicopters. Trump told reporters Sunday that al-Baghdadi detonated his suicide vest in a dead-end tunnel after being trapped by U.S. forces and military canines.
"Baghdadi and the losers who worked for him, and losers they are, they had no idea what they were getting into. In some cases, they were very frightened puppies," Trump said. "He died like a dog. He died like a coward. The world is now a much safer place. God bless America."
Trump also said that potential replacements for al-Baghdadi had been identified and “in our sights.”
“We know the successors,” Trump said.
No American troops were harmed in the raid, although a military working dog that was involved in the mission was injured.
The dog has since been returned to duty and is making a full recovery, according to Army Gen. Mark Milley, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff.