The New York Times
By Allison McCann, Anjali Singhvi and
The compound where Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, the founder and leader of the Islamic State, was said to have died was located in an unexpected part of northwest Syria, far from the terrorist group’s former stronghold.
The compound was just a few miles from the Turkish border in a small village called Barisha, about 15 miles north of Idlib, the closest major city. President Trump announced on Sunday that Mr. al-Baghdadi was dead after a raid on the compound by United States Special Forces.
Site of the raid
American officials said they were surprised to learn that Mr. al-Baghdadi was hiding out in Idlib Province, an area dominated by rival Qaeda groups and that is hundreds of miles from the Islamic State’s former territory along the border between Syria and Iraq.
The region is also far from the area of northeastern Syria where Turkish forces have moved into Kurdish-held territories in recent weeks after President Trump announced the withdrawal of American troops there.
Kurdish intelligence was said to have worked with United States intelligence to locate Mr. al-Baghdadi and monitor his movements, even after Mr. Trump pulled his support for the Kurds, a longtime ally in the fight against the Islamic State.
At the height of its power four years ago, the Islamic State ruled a territory the size of Britain and controlled the lives of up to 12 million people. With the help of Kurdish fighters and other allies, United States forces pushed the Islamic State out of its last foothold in Syria earlier this year.
But even without territorial control, the group has been able to carry out attacks through targeted assassinations, bombings, ambushes and raids. Many top leaders are still alive, and hundreds of fighters and their families remain in detention centers or at large.