President Donald Trump thanked the Russian government among other countries for aiding US Special Forces in a Saturday operation that killed Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, the founder and leader of ISIS.
"This raid was impeccable and could only have taken place with the acknowledgment and help of certain other nations and people," Trump during a nationally-televised press conference on Sunday morning. "I want to thank the nations of Russia, Turkey, Syria, and Iraq and I also want to thank the Syrian Kurds for certain support they were able to give us."
Later in his press conference, Trump said Russia allowed US forces to fly through its airspace and that the US government informed Russia that it would "like" the nature of the American mission.
"We told the Russians we were going in because we were going over them," Trump told reporters during the press conference. "And they were curious, but we said we're coming. We said look, one way or another we're coming."
Trump continued, "[The Russians] were very cooperative, they really were good. And we said it would be a mission they'd like, too, because they hate ISIS, too."
Trump said the Kurds provided intelligence that the US forces made use of. This comes just weeks after the president initiated a deeply controversial US retreat from northern Syria that has allowed Turkish forces to attack the US-allied Kurds. Both Democrats and Republicans have aggressively condemned the American pullout.
—ABC News (@ABC) October 27, 2019
Trump said al-Baghdadi blew himself and three children up with a suicide vest when US forces trapped him at the end of a tunnel in Idlib Province.
"Last night, the United States brought the world's number one terrorist to justice," Trump announced at his Sunday morning press conference. "Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi is dead."
Critics of Trump's recent pullout insisted that Saturday's operation wouldn't have been possible if the US hadn't had a presence in Syria.
"We must keep in mind that we were able to strike Baghdadi because we had forces in the region," Rep. Michael Waltz, a Florida Republican of Florida and US Army veteran said. "We must keep ISIS from returning by staying on offense."