BAGHDAD – Iraq’s intelligence services provided U.S. forces with the location of elusive Islamic State group chief Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi ahead of the raid that killed him, the security forces said Sunday.
In a statement distributed to journalists, the forces said intel units had created a “specialized team” that worked for a year to track Baghdadi.
“The Iraqi national intelligence service, according to precise information, located the hideout of Daesh chief Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi,” it said, using the Arabic acronym for IS.
“On this basis, U.S. forces in coordination with Iraqi intelligence carried out a military operation that led to the elimination of Abu Bakr and those with him,” it added.
U.S. President Donald Trump announced Sunday that a special operation by American forces had targeted the jihadi supremo in northwest Syria.
Troops cornered Baghdadi in a tunnel, where he set off a suicide vest and killed himself, with three of his children also dying in the blast.
Trump acknowledged several countries had contributed to the operation, saying Iraq had done “very well” without providing details.
An Iraqi intelligence source told AFP the service had been closely tracking Baghdadi’s movements across Syria but could ultimately pin down his location due to a phone call from one of his multiple wives, who was with him.
A second Iraqi official said the intelligence services relied on information from two women in custody: another one of Baghdadi’s wives as well as the wife of one of his couriers.