Donald Trump has confirmed that Islamic State leader Abu Bakr al Baghdadi was killed in a US military operation.
The president said: “Last night, we brought the world’s number one terrorist leader to justice.”
He added: “He died like a dog, like a coward.”
The president said US special forces had conducted a “daring raid” which lasted around two hours, during which a large number of al Baghdadi’s companions were also killed or captured.
US officials scoped out al Baghdadi’s whereabouts a couple of weeks before the raid.
Soldiers booby-trapped the main door of the compound al Baghdadi was found in.
The soldiers faced gunfire as they approached the compound.
Eight helicopters were used in the operation, as well as ships and planes.
Al Baghdadi killed himself and three of his children during the operation by setting off a suicide vest, according to Mr Trump.
“He reached the end of the tunnel as our dogs chased him down,” the president said. “He ignited his vest, killing himself and his three children.
“His body was mutilated by the blasts. The tunnel had caved on him.”
Test results from the aftermath of the raid confirmed the deceased was the Islamic State leader.
Mr Trump said no US personnel were killed and 11 children present were uninjured.
The number of Islamic State militants killed has not been confirmed yet.
Mr Trump revealed that Kurdish intelligence helped the operation and the Kurdish-led Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) said it had worked with the US on a “successful” mission.
Iraq’s military said its national intelligence service had located al Baghdadi and told the US of his whereabouts.
Mr Trump also thanked Russia for opening up their airspace, despite them not knowing the nature of the US mission.
The president watched the raid unfold alongside vice-president Mike Pence from the White House situation room, saying it felt “as though you were watching a movie”.
He suggested the footage of the operation could be released publicly so the world knows al Baghdadi spent his final moments “crying, whimpering” and “screaming”.
Al Baghdati, the notorious terror group leader, was one of the world’s most wanted criminals, with a bounty of $ 25m (£19.5m) on his head.
He was at the centre of an international manhunt for years but had not made an appearance since 2014.
Speculation began on Saturday night when President Trump tweeted “Something very big has just happened!”, but he gave no further explanation.
The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights earlier reported an attack in Syria’s northwestern Idlib province, where IS operatives were believed to be hiding.
The UK-based observatory documented nine deaths in the attack.
The strike came amid concerns that a recent US pullback from northeastern Syria could infuse new strength into the militant group, which had lost vast stretches of territory it had once controlled.
The president confirmed on Sunday that he would not be reconsidering the withdrawal.
Al Baghdadi, who led IS for the past five years, was seen in the summer of 2014 in the pulpit of the Nouri mosque in Mosul.
He urged Muslims around the world to swear allegiance to the caliphate and obey him as its leader.
“It is a burden to accept this responsibility to be in charge of you,” he said in the video.
“I am not better than you or more virtuous than you. If you see me on the right path, help me. If you see me on the wrong path, advise me and halt me. And obey me as far as I obey God.”
In 2015, he was reportedly severely injured in an airstrike in western Iraq.
He has also been heard in a number of audio messages to followers, including an 18-minute speech given earlier this year.
Al Baghdadi oversaw a shift away from large-scale attacks towards smaller acts of violence that would be harder for law enforcement to prevent.
He encouraged jihadists who could not travel to the caliphate to kill where they were, with whatever weapon they had at their disposal.
In the US, multiple extremists have pledged their allegiance to al Baghdadi on social media, including a woman who along with her husband committed a 2015 massacre at a holiday party in San Bernardino, California.
UK Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab said: “The death of Baghdadi is a significant milestone in the coalition’s work to defeat Daesh [IS] but it is not the end of the threat.
“Daesh has imposed terrible suffering on innocent civilians. The UK will continue to work with our international partners to bring this to an end.”
In a separate raid carried out by Kurdish and US forces, IS spokesman Abu al-Hassan al-Muhajir was killed in northern Syria, according to the SDF on Sunday.
The group, led by the Kurdish YPG militia, said he was targeted near the border town of Jarablus.