(Reuters) - President Donald Trump announced on Sunday that fugitive Islamic State leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi had died in a raid by U.S. special forces in northwest Syria, in what he called a major blow to the jihadist group.
Baghdadi killed himself during the raid by detonating a suicide vest, Trump said in a televised address from the White House.
Here are reactions to the announcement:
Joe Biden, contender for the Democratic nomination to face Trump in the 2020 presidential election:
“We cannot afford to get distracted or take our eye off the target. ISIS (Islamic State) remains a threat to the American people and our allies, and we must keep up the pressure to prevent ISIS from ever regrouping or again threatening the United States.”
Republican Senator Lindsay Graham, speaking at the White House:
“What the president said today was very reassuring to me —that when it comes to ISIS and other terrorists groups, we’re coming after you, wherever you go, as long as it takes to protect our country and our way of life.”
U.S. House of Representatives Speaker Nancy Pelosi, a Democrat, criticized Trump not notifying U.S. Congressional leadership prior to the raid. She also said in a statement:
“The death of al-Baghdadi is significant, but the death of this ISIS (Islamic State) leader does not mean the death of ISIS. Scores of ISIS fighters remain under uncertain conditions in Syrian prisons, and countless others in the region and around the world remain intent on spreading their influence and committing acts of terror.”
U.S. Senator Mitt Romney, a Republican and regular critic of Trump, on Twitter:
“Al Baghdadi spread ‘fire and brimstone’ on earth; now he feels it for himself in hell. To all who arranged his change of venue—the intel officers, the President, the warriors—thank you.”
Iraqi government statement:
“Following extensive work by a dedicated team for over a year, Iraq’s National Intelligence Service was able to accurately pinpoint the hideout of the terrorist Abu Bakr Al-Baghdadi in the Syrian province of Idlib.
“Subsequently, U.S. forces, in coordination with Iraq’s National Intelligence Service, carried out an operation which led to the elimination of the terrorist Al-Baghdadi.
“Iraq’s Armed Forces and intelligence services will continue to work with Iraq’s partners in the @coalition to relentlessly pursue Daesh (Islamic State) terrorists and to defeat their ideology.”
Information Minister Mohammad Javad Azari-Jahromi, tweeted:
“Not a big deal, You just killed your creature” (accusing the United States, its longtime foe, of creating Islamic State)
Iranian government spokesman Ali Rabiei tweeted:
“The killing of Baghdadi will not end Daesh (Islamic State) and its ideology ... which was created and flourished with the help of regional petrodollars.”
Major-General Igor Konashenkov, quoted by RIA news agency:
“The Russian Ministry of Defence does not have reliable information on the operation by U.S. servicemen... on yet another ‘elimination’ of former IS leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi.”
Konstantin Kosachyov, chairman of upper house of parliament’s foreign affairs committee, to Interfax news agency:
“... Last respects have been paid to al-Baghdadi at least five times in the past. (Also) countering terrorism is a much more difficult task than the physical destruction of its leaders, even the most irreconcilable.”
President Emmanuel Macron on Twitter:
“Al-Baghdadi’s death is a hard blow against Islamic State, but it is just a stage. With our partners in the international coalition, the fight continues to finally defeat this terrorist organization. It is our priority in the Middle East.”
Defence Minister Florence Parly on Twitter:
“Baghdadi: early retirement for a terrorist, but not for his organization. I congratulate our American allies with this operation. My thoughts today are for all the victims of the madness of Bagdhadi and the criminals who have followed him.”
Prime Minister Boris Johnson on Twitter:
“The death of Baghdadi is an important moment in our fight against terror but the battle against the evil of Daesh is not yet over. We will work with our coalition partners to bring an end to the murderous, barbaric activities of Daesh once and for all.”
Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab, on Twitter:
“Following the death of Daesh’s leader, we must not allow Daesh to glorify someone who actioned such inhumane & abhorrent criminal acts. The UK will continue to support efforts to #DefeatDaesh.”
President Tayyip Erdogan, on Twitter
“The killing of Daesh’s ringleader marks a turning point in our joint fight against terrorism. Turkey will continue to support anti-terror efforts — as it has done in the past.”
Erdogan added Turkey had paid a heavy price fighting terrorism, including in his list of foes the YPG - Kurdish militia in Syria who were instrumental in fighting with the United States against Islamic State but who Ankara deems terrorists.
“I am confident that a decisive struggle against terrorism, in line with the spirit of alliance, will bring peace to all of humanity.”
Senior aide to Erdogan, Fahrettin Altun, in statement to Reuters:
“Turkey was proud to help the United States, our NATO ally, bring a notorious terrorist to justice.”
Statement from Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu:
“I would like to congratulate President Trump on the impressive achievement that led to the assassination of the head of (Islamic State) al-Baghdadi. This reflects our shared determination, of the United States of America and of all free countries, to fight terror organizations and terrorist states. This achievement is an important milestone, but the campaign is still ahead of us.”
Reporting by Reuters bureaux; Compiled by Gareth Jones and Frances Kerry