SDF statement on the killing of ISIS leader al-Baghdadi

SDF said that the operation had been delayed for more than a month due to the Turkish aggression on their region.

The General Command of the Syrian Democratic Forces held a press conference in Heseke on the killing of ISIS leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi in a joint operation of the SDF and the U.S. near a Turkish military base.

The Kurdish version of the press statement was read by Head of SDF Foreign Relations Office Redur Xelil and the Arabic by SDF Official Spokesman Kino Gabriel.

The statement said the following:

“As a result of the joint efforts of more than five months between the military intelligence of the Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) and the US forces, and in coordination at the highest level, the head of the Islamic State terrorist organization, Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, was eliminated in a joint operation near a Turkish military base in Barisha, northern countryside of Idlib province at dawn today. This historic achievement was the result of the close cooperation between the SDF and the United States of America.

We emphasize that this operation was delayed for more than a month due to the Turkish aggression on our region. We consider the operation as a revenge for the massacres committed by the terrorist organization in Kobani, Sinjar, the Khabour Basin, Nineveh Plain, Kirkuk, Khanaqin, Makhmour and revenge for the Kurdish Yazidi women in particular, and a revenge for humanity and all the victims of ISIS crimes worldwide.

The operation took place after our military intelligence documented over the past months the presence of high-ranking ISIS leaders including al-Baghdadi in areas under the military control of the Turkish state. We have shared some of the details regarding this issue with various media outlets after the liberation of the town of Baghouz in March 2019.

We warn the world of the danger that jihadi factions with the Turkish army may enter Ras al-Ain and Tel Abyad areas occupied by Turkey-backed militias and that the region could become another safe-haven in which ISIS may find opportunities to re-organize. We have already indicated that IS member and some senior leaders of the group have already moved to areas controlled by Turkish army in northern Syria. Presence of Turkish army and its mercenaries in Idlib, Afrin and the so-called "Euphrates Shield" areas and the recent operation that led to the killing of al-Baghdadi in the same area where Turkish army is present is yet another evidence of the authenticity of our repeated warnings.

As the SDF, while thanking all parties and forces that have contributed to the success of this historic process, we confirm our continued joint efforts with the international coalition led by the United States of America and that our intelligence services will step up their efforts to pursue and combat the leaders of ISIS and its cells.”