Is ISIS chief Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi dead?

US President Donald Trump will make a “very important” announcement today at 09:00 [15:00 Greek time], the White House announced Saturday, as US media broadcast that special forces had launched an offensive in northeast Syria against head of the Islamic State (ISIS) jihadist organization, Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi. According to CNN television network, the US military conducted an operation on Saturday in northeast Syria.

The CIA helped identify Baghdadi, the US television network said, without specifying the outcome of the operation. According to Newsweek, which cited an officer informed of the operation, the ISIS leader is dead. A US official confirmed to Reuters news agency, on condition of anonymity, that the special forces had attacked. Other officials declined to comment.

Shortly before the US Presidency’s announcement that Trump would make the “important announcement” today, Trump had ominously tweeted “something big just happened” The announcement will be made in the White House Diplomats Reception Hall, where Trump announced last week a ceasefire agreement between the Turkish military and Kurdish militias in northeast Syria.

Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi has given no sign of life after an audio message was distributed by the ISIS propaganda machine in November 2016, following the start of Iraqi forces’ operation to recapture Mosul. In this message, he called on his fighters to fight until they became “martyrs”. It was in Mosul where Baghdadi made his only known public appearance, in July 2014, at the al-Nouri mosque.

With a turban, a black robe and a gray beard, he had called on all believers to swear allegiance to him, declaring the founding of the ISIS “caliphate” in the vast expanses of Iraqi and Syrian territory dominated by its fighters.

Donald Trump has lately been trying to overturn the negative climate he has been facing, amid mounting pressure over a Democratic investigation in the House of Representatives, which could lead to his impeachment and trial. This in his view, is a ‘witch hunt’. He continues to receive strong criticism for his decision to withdraw US troops deployed in northern Syria, paving the way for the invasion of the Turkish military.