World reacts to death of ISIL leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi

Al-Baghdadi reportedly killed himself after running into a dead-end tunnel during a US military raid in northwest Syria.

Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL or ISIS) leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi was killed in a US military operation in northwest Syria, President Donald Trump confirmed.

During a press conference on Sunday, Trump said al-Baghdadi had been “under surveillance for a couple of weeks”.

According to the US president, the ISIL chief died after running into a tunnel in the village of Barisha where he detonated an explosive vest, killing himself and three of his children.

In the announcement, Trump thanked Turkey, Syria, Iraq, Russia, and the Syrian Kurds for their cooperation.

World reaction to the news has been divided with some leaders hailing it as a turning point in the fight against “terrorism”, while some governments played down its down significance.

Saudi Arabia

Saudi Arabia’s Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman congratulated Trump on the killing of ISIL’s leader, describing the special forces operation as a historic step in the fight against “extremism”, Saudi state TV Ekhbariya reported on Tuesday.

Saudi Arabia said al-Baghdadi had distorted the image of Islam, and hailed his killing by US special forces in northwest Syria.

“The kingdom appreciates the US administration’s efforts to pursue members of this terrorist organisation that distorted the real image of Islam … and committed atrocities and crimes,” said the Saudi foreign ministry, according to the official Saudi Press Agency (SPA).

“Saudi Arabia continues its efforts with its allies, especially the United States, in fighting terrorism.” 


Egypt’s Foreign Ministry spokesman, Ahmed Hafez, said it was an important step in the efforts to combat terrorism.

He also called for “unified action” and “a comprehensive perspective that takes into
account the security, development and ideological dimensions” in the fight against armed groups.


Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan said al-Baghdadi’s killing “marked a turning point in our joint fight against terrorism.”


The Russian defence ministry reacted to the news with scepticism, saying “it had no reliable information on the US operation.”

“The Russian Ministry of Defense does not have reliable information on the US servicemen conducting in the Turkish-controlled part of the de-escalation zone of Idlib an operation on yet another ‘elimination’ of the former IS leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi,” Major-General Igor Konashenkov was quoted by local news agency RIA as saying.

Who was Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi?


Afghanistan welcomed al-Baghdadi’s killing as a major blow to the armed group that is expected to weaken the South Asian branch.

The emergence of an Afghan ISIL affiliate in recent years created another enemy for the country’s US-backed government, which has been fighting against the much larger Taliban insurgency since 2001.

“The Afghan government strongly welcomes the US forces’ operation that led to the death of … Baghdadi,” a spokesman for Afghan President Ashraf Ghani said in a post on Twitter. “The death … is the biggest blow to this group and to terrorism,” the spokesman, Sediq Sediqqi, said.

Will al-Baghdadi’s death stop ISIL?


Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu labelled the event as an “impressive achievement.”

“This reflects our shared determination, of the United States of America and of all free countries, to fight terror organisations and terrorist states,” a statement from his office read. 

“This achievement is an important milestone, but the campaign is still ahead of us,” it added.


Iran’s information minister, Mohammed Javad Azari-Jahromi said in a tweet that the killing of al-Baghdadi was “not a big deal. You just killed your creature”. The minister did not elaborate, but Iran has often accused the US of creating ISIL, without providing evidence.


Jordanian Foreign Minister Ayman al-Safadi described al-Baghdadi’s death as a significant step in the two countries’ “continuing war against terrorists and their ideology of hate”.

“Jordan will remain at the forefront of efforts to destroy this evil in cooperation with our partners in the global coalition,” al-Safadi wrote on Twitter.


Bahrain Foreign Minister Khalid bin Ahmed Al Khalifa praised the move and said it was a “fatal blow to the group.”

Translation: “The killing of the criminal Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi is a severe blow to the ISIL terrorist organisation. We salute our brothers and allies on their efforts and success in finding him and getting rid of him.”


French Defence Minister Florence Parly congratulated the US but cautioned that the fight against ISIL will continue. 

Translation: “Baghdadi: Early retirement for a terrorist, but not for his organisation. We will continue the fight against Daesh [ISIL] without rest, with our partners, adapting ourselves to new regional circumstances.”

“I congratulate our American allies for this operation. My thoughts today are for all the victims of the madness of Baghdadi and the criminals who have followed him.”

United Kingdom

UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson said this was “an important moment,” but also warned the battle against ISIL “is not yet over.”


Japan’s Chief Cabinet Secretary Yoshihide Suga said on Monday the death of Islamic State group leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi was an ” important step towards peace and stability” in the Middle East.

Speaking at a news conference  in Tokyo, Japan’s Chief Cabinet Secretary Yoshihide Suga said the “fight against extremism is not over.”

He reiterated Japan’s commitment to the fight against the spread of extremism around the world.


Australia’s Prime Minister Scott Morrison welcomed the news of al-Baghdadi’s death, describing his killing as “significant” in the fight against extremism.

“We are mindful though that the threat continues and we must remain ever vigilant and we will continue to be so ever vigilant working with our partners around the world,” the prime minister said.

The Philippines

Lt. Gen. Cirilito Sobejana, the Philippine general overseeing the battle against Islamic State-aligned groups in the country’s south, said he had ordered intensified monitoring and tighter security in conflict-affected areas, following the death of al-Baghdadi.

The regional military commander said that al-Baghdadi was not well known in the southern Philippines, but that his death could be exploited to encourage retaliatory attacks.

Philippine Defence Secretary Delfin Lorenzana said while the ISIL leader’s death was “a blow” to the group it would be “just a momentary setback considering the depth and reach of the organisation worldwide.”

Philippine security officials have blamed IS-aligned groups for a series of deadly attacks in the country, including the five-month siege of Marawi in 2017.

Kurdish-led Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF)

The commander of the Kurdish-led Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) Mazloum Abdi said this achievement was a result of  “joint intel cooperation.”

Source: Al Jazeera