ISIS chief Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi was believed to be dead after a US military raid in Syria’s Idlib region, US media reports said in the early of Sunday.
According to reports, Baghdadi may have killed himself with a suicide vest as US special operations forces descended.
He was the target of the secretly planned operation approved by President Donald Trump, officials said.
Long pursued by the US-led coalition against the ISIS, Baghdadi has been erroneously reported dead several times in recent years.
Al-Baghdadi, who is described as the world’s most wanted man, was officially designated by the US in October 2011 a “terrorist” and offered a $10 million reward for information leading to his capture or death, the BBC reported.
Taking to Twitter, President Trump tweeted that “Something very big has just happened!”.
Something very big has just happened!
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) October 27, 2019
His reaction came after the White House announced that President Trump would make a “major statement” on Sunday at 9am (1300 GMT), without providing details.
According to American outlet Newsweek, Donald Trump had recently approved a special operations raid against ISIS, targeting its chief Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi.
It was blamed for the deaths of thousands of civilians, in summary executions and beheadings, and accused of war crimes.
But Baghdadi has been on ousted it from its claimed territory in a two-year campaign, finally declaring victory over ISIS in March of this year.
The United States had posted a $25 million reward for information on his whereabouts.
Born near Samarra, north of Baghdad, in 1971, al-Baghdadi who’s real name is Ibrahim Awad al-Badri, has a reputation as a highly organised and ruthless battlefield tactician.
Reports suggest that he was a cleric in a mosque in the city around the time of the US-led invasion of Iraq in 2003.
He emerged in 2010 as the leader of Al Qaeda in Iraq, one of the groups that merged with the Islamic State (IS), and rose to prominence during the attempted merger with al-Nusra Front in Syria.
Al-Baghdadi has made only one public appearance, in July 2014, in the al-Nuri Mosque in Mosul, which was retaken by Iraqi security forces in June 2017.
Eariler in August, the IS had released what it said was a new audio message from al-Baghdadi where he admitted that the IS groups were losing and that it was a test from Allah, saying they needed to stick together.
(With inputs from agencies)