In an unusual televised address from the White House on Sunday morning, Donald Trump announced that U.S. forces had killed ISIS leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi. "Last night the United States brought the world’s number one terrorist leader to justice," Trump said. He went onto provide great detail about al-Baghdadi's final moments, describing how he fled down a tunnel "whimpering and crying and screaming all the way" while pursed by American military dogs. Trump said that in his final moments, al-Baghdadi detonated a suicide vest, killing himself and his children.
Throughout his talk, Trump thanked Turkey, Syria, and Iraq for providing aid, and said Kurdish forces provided "information that turned out to be helpful." He also thanked Russia repeatedly for allowing American forces through their airspace, saying the Russians "were very cooperative, they really were good... Russia treated us great. They opened up, we had to fly over certain Russia areas, Russia-held areas. Russia was great."
According to the Daily Beast though, Major General Igor Konashenkov, the spokesperson for the Russian Defense Ministry, refuted parts of Trump's statement. "The Russian Defense Ministry has no reliable information about U.S. servicemen conducting an operation for 'yet another' elimination of the former Daesh leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi in the Turkish-controlled part of the Idlib de-escalation zone," Konashenkov said in a statement.
Russian state media was even more direct, saying, "The Russian Defense Ministry does not believe in al-Baghdadi’s liquidation."
Trump told reporters that he alerted two Senate Republicans prior to his announcement, Intelligence Committee Chairman chair Richard Burr of North Carolina and Judiciary chair Lindsey Graham of South Carolina. When asked if he informed House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, Trump admitted he didn't: "No, I didn’t. I didn’t do that. I wanted to make sure this kept secret. I don’t want to have men lost, and women. I don’t want to have people lost."
In response, Pelosi told reporters that Trump informed Russian forces of the results of the mission before he ever contacted Congress. "The House must be briefed on this raid, which the Russians but not top congressional leadership were notified of in advance, and on the administration’s overall strategy in the region. Our military and allies deserve strong, smart and strategic leadership from Washington," she said.
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Originally Appeared on GQ