The leader of the self-proclaimed Islamic State (IS) Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi killed himself during a US military operation in the Syrian village of Barisha in the governate of Idlib on the 27th of October 2019. The operation, named after US human rights activist Kayla Mueller which was abducted and killed by IS in 2015, was conducted by US special forces with “certain support” by Russia, Turkey, and Syria according to the briefing made by US President Donald Trump. Trump explained that Baghdadi was under surveillance for a couple of weeks and that the operation was postponed several times due to Baghdadi’s movements. An attempt was made by Baghdadi to escape the raid; however, he detonated his vest after reaching a dead-end tunnel while being chased by military dogs.
Trump confirmed Baghdadi’s death after biometric and DNA tests on the remains of his body. Baghdadi’s death was met with praise by several states such as Turkey and France. However, uncertainty remains looming around the future of the organization’s leadership and who would take-over after Baghdadi, particularly that his right hand man Abu al-Hassan al-Muhajir was also killed in a separate operation in north eastern Syria. Although IS’s territorial control has evaporated, the organization remains present in the area. IS has sponsored various hit-and-run attacks against different targets inside Syria. However, the killing of al-Baghdadi poses many questions on the future of the organization.