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Islamic State announces appointment of new leader following Baghdadi death

Group confirms the death of Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi in audio statement released on its Amaq news agency
Chief of the Islamic State group Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi purportedly appears for the first time in five years in a propaganda video in an undisclosed location (AFP)

The Islamic State group has announced a new leader after confirming the death of Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi.

In a statement released on Thursday on its Amaq news agency, the militant group said Abu Ibrahim al-Hashimi al-Quraishi would be its new leader.

The group's spokesman, Abu Hamza al-Quraishi, confirmed in an audio statement that Baghdadi had been killed following a US operation in Syria's Idlib province last week.

"We mourn you... commander of the faithful," he said.

Both the new leader and new spokesperson appear to be claiming lineage from the Prophet Muhammad by the adoption of the "Quraishi" tribal name.

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On Wednesday, the Pentagon released video and photos of the US special forces raid that resulted in Baghdadi's death.

Among the images released by the Defense Department was grainy black-and-white footage of US troops approaching on foot the high-walled compound in northwestern Syria where Baghdadi was holed up.

The Pentagon also released video of air strikes on a group of unknown fighters on the ground who opened fire on the helicopters that ferried US forces in for the assault on Baghdadi's compound in Syria's Idlib province.

Before and after pictures of the isolated compound were also released.

The compound was razed by US munitions after the raid, leaving it looking like "a parking lot with large potholes," said Marine Corps General Kenneth McKenzie, commander of US Central Command.

'Last moments'

McKenzie, speaking to reporters at the Pentagon, also provided several new details about Sunday's raid.

He said that two children were killed - and not three as President Donald Trump previously said - when Baghdadi blew himself up with a suicide vest in a tunnel as he tried to escape US troops.

He said the children appeared to be under 12 years old.

McKenzie was asked about Trump's claim that Baghdadi had fled into the tunnel "crying and whimpering."

"About Baghdadi's last moments, I could tell you this," he said. "He crawled into a hole with two small children and blew himself up while his people stayed on the ground."

Baghdadi "may have fired from his hole in his last moments," he added.

McKenzie said that in addition to Baghdadi and the two children, four women and one man were killed at the compound.

He said the women had acted in a "threatening manner" and were wearing suicide vests.

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