Turkey says coordinated with US on raid believed to have targeted Baghdadi

ANKARA: Turkey on Sunday said there was “coordination” between Ankara and Washington before the operation which US media reports said targeted and killed Islamic State chief Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi.

“Prior to the US Operation in Idlib Province of Syria last night, information exchange and coordination between the military authorities of both countries took place,” the Turkish defence ministry said in a tweet.

It did not give details.

The elusive chief of IS was believed to be deadafter a US military raid in the Idlib region, US media reported earlier on Sunday.

The helicopters targeted a home and a car outside the village of Barisha, the UK-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said, in the operation which killed nine people.

“To the best of my knowledge, Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi arrived at this location 48 hours prior to the raid. We have been in close coordination with the relevant parties,” a senior Turkish official told AFP.

“The Turkish military did have advance knowledge of last night’s raid,” the official said, while stating that “I can neither confirm nor deny that any intelligence was shared to facilitate last night’s operation.”

The official added: “We will continue to coordinate our actions on the ground.”

US President Donald Trump is expected to make a “major statement” on Sunday at 9:00 am (1300 GMT, the White House said.

Some US media reports quoted government sources saying Baghdadi may have killed himself with a suicide vest as US special operations forces descended.