October 27, 2019
Donald Trump Thanks Russia First, But Russians Question If Mission To Kill Islamic State Head Ever Took Place

In his Sunday morning address to the nation announcing the killing of Islamic State leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, as The Inquisitr reported, Donald Trump thanked Russia before acknowledging any other country or entity for its cooperation in the mission.

But the Russian government quickly appeared to disavow the operation. In a statement from that country's defense ministry, the Russians questioned whether the operation actually took place at all, according to a CNN report.

Russia "does not have reliable information" about the raid that Trump has claimed killed al-Baghdadi, Russian Defense Ministry spokesperson Igor Konashenkov said in a statement, as quoted by CNN. Trump vividly described the Islamic State leader "whimpering and crying and screaming," as U.S. forces pursued him, adding that al-Baghdadi "died like a dog."

According to the Russian statement, however, the number of "participants and countries" allegedly involved in the al-Baghdadi operation each gave "contradictory details" of the mission. The contradictions, the Russian spokesperson said, raised "legitimate questions and doubts about its existence and especially the level of its success."

But in his address to the nation on Sunday, Trump mentioned Russia first on a list of nations that he said cooperated with the operation. The list also included Syria, Turkey, and Iraq.

Russia "treated us great," Trump said, as quoted by The Inquisitr. He also claimed that Russia had allowed U.S. aircraft to fly through Russia-controlled airspace as part of the mission.

Donald Trump appears in situation room photo
Getty Images | Shealah Craighead
Photo reportedly taken during the raid to kill Islamic State leader: Donald Trump (c), Mike Pence (2nd l), National Security Advisor Robert O'Brien (l), Secretary of Defense Mark Esper (3rd r), Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff General Mark A. Milley (2nd r) and Director for Special Operations General Marcus Evans (r).

But the Russian defense ministry spokesperson said that no U.S. aircraft flew through Russian airspace with Russia's approval. Konashenkov also denied that any U.S. airstrikes were seen in the area where the raid is believed to have taken place, according to the CNN report.

"On Saturday and in recent days no air strikes were made on the Idlib de-escalation zone by US aircraft or the so-called 'international coalition' were recorded," Konashenkov said in the defense ministry statement.

"We are not aware of any alleged assistance to the passage of American aviation" through the region, the Russian defense ministry spokesperson said.

In his speech, Trump acknowledged "certain support" from Kurdish forces in the operation to get al-Baghdadi. But Kurdish military leader Mazloum Abdi, head of the Kurdish-dominated Syrian Democratic Forces, said that the "historic, successful operation" was the result of a joint intelligence operation, according to a Reuters report.

"We continue to work with our partners in the global coalition in the fight against [Islamic State] terrorism," SDF media spokesperson Mustafa Bali added, according to the Reuters report.

A senior U.S. national security official told CNN that the reported death of the Islamic State leader will likely lead to "a short term spike in attempts at high profile attacks," by the terrorist group.

The Russian spokesperson said that the killing of al-Baghdadi has "absolutely no operational significance on the situation in Syria" or on future operations of Islamic State "terrorists" in the region.