By RFE RL
(RFE/RL) — The Islamic State (IS) extremist group has confirmed the death of its leader, Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, and named his successor.
An IS outlet in an audio statement posted online on October 31 named Abu Ibrahim al-Hashemi al-Qurayshi as the new “caliph.”
Baghdadi, who had led the IS group since 2014, died on October 26 during a U.S. special forces raid in Syria’s northwestern province of Idlib.
It was not immediately clear who Qurayshi was in reference to since IS commonly identifies its leaders with aliases tied to their tribal affiliation and lineage. Those names often change.
In the audio message, the IS group also confirmed the death of Abu Hassan al-Muhajir, a close aide of Baghdadi and a spokesman for the group.
He was killed in a joint U.S.-Kurdish raid in northern Syria on October 27, hours after Baghdadi detonated a suicide vest as he fled into a dead-end tunnel.
Meanwhile, the Pentagon said that Baghdadi’s remains were buried at sea within 24 hours of his death.
It also released the first government photos and video clips of the nighttime operation.
One showed Delta Force commandos approaching the walls of the compound in which Baghdadi and others were found. Another video showed American air strikes on militants who fired at helicopters carrying U.S. commandos to the compound.
The military also bombed the compound after the soldiers completed the mission to prevent it from becoming a shrine to Baghdadi.
The U.S. commandos launched from an undisclosed location inside Syria for the one-hour helicopter ride to the compound, said General Kenneth “Frank” McKenzie, head of U.S. Central Command.
Two children died with Baghdadi when he detonated the bomb vest, McKenzie said, while 11 other children were escorted from the site unharmed.
Four women and two men who were wearing suicide vests and refused to surrender inside the compound were killed, McKenzie said.
The general said the military dog that was injured during the raid, a four-year veteran with U.S. Special Operations Command, has returned to duty.
Substantial amounts of documentation and electronics were seized during the raid, McKenzie said, without elaborating.