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‘Fantastic Play’: Assad Again Quips at Trump Announcement on Baghdadi Elimination

by Oleg Burunov

In an interview with Syria TV earlier in November, Bashar Assad remained downbeat about US President Trump’s announcement on the elimination of Daesh* leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi. The Syrian President suggested that the operation to kill al-Baghdadi was nothing but a trick, since US policymaking “is no different from Hollywood”.

In an interview with the French magazine Paris Match published on Wednesday, Syrian President Bashar Assad confirmed his sceptical stance on the destruction of Daesh leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi by US special forces, also quipping at President Trump’s words of thanks to Damascus for its alleged contribution to the operation.

When asked whether the Syrian government really gave the US information on al-Baghdadi’s whereabouts, Assad said that he “always laughs when this question is raised, because the more important question which should be asked is: was al-Baghdadi really killed or not?”

Wondering whether “this ‘fantastic play’ staged by the Americans took place in reality”, Assad did not mince words when revealing why Trump decided to thank him for allegedly adding to al-Baghdadi’s elimination.

“It’s one of Trump’s cute jokes. It’s [nothing but] a joke,” the Syrian President noted.

The interview comes a few weeks after Assad told the Syria TV news network that the US operation to kill al-Baghdadi was little more than a trick, because US politics “is no different from Hollywood; it relies on mere imagination, not even science fiction”.

Russia Cast Doubt on Baghdadi’s Death  

The remarks followed Russia’s presidential spokesman Dmitry Peskov stating in late October that Moscow had not received official confirmation of al-Baghdadi’s elimination yet.

This was preceded by Chairman of the US Joint Chiefs of Staff Gen. Mark Milley telling reporters on 28 October that the US is not prepared to release video or photos of the a special forces raid on al-Baghdadi’s compound in Syria.

On 27 October, President Donald Trump announced that US forces hunted down al-Baghdadi in Syria’s Idlib province, claiming that the Daesh leader blew himself and three accompanying children up by detonating a suicide vest when he was trapped at the end of a tunnel. He also thanked Russia, Turkey, Syria and Iraq for giving a helping help to destroying al-Baghdadi

The Russian Defence Ministry said at the time that it had possessed no reliable data regarding the US operation and had reasons to question its credibility.