Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi
This file image made from video posted on a militant website Saturday, July 5, 2014, purports to show the leader of Daesh, Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, delivering a sermon at a mosque in Iraq during his first public appearance. Image Credit: AP

Washington: Update: Helicopter gunfire early Sunday killed nine people near a northwestern Syrian village where "groups linked to the [Daesh] group" were present, a Britain-based war monitor with sources inside Syria said.

The helicopters targeted a home and car on the outskirts of the village of Barisha in the northwestern province of Idlib, the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said, after US media said the leader Abu Bakr Al Baghdadi was believed to be dead after a US military raid in the same province.

Abu Bakr Al Baghdadi, the shadowy leader of Daesh who became arguably the world's most wanted man, is believed dead after being targeted by a US military raid in Syria.

A US official told The Associated Press late on Saturday that Al Baghdadi was targeted in Syria's Idlib province. The official said confirmation that the Daesh chief was killed in an explosion is pending. No other details were available.

Baghdadi may have killed himself with a suicide vest as US special operations forces descended, media said citing multiple government sources.

He was the target of the secretly planned operation approved by President Donald Trump, officials said.

Long pursued by the US-led coalition against Daesh, Baghdadi has been erroneously reported dead several times in recent years.

Meanwhile, US President Donald Trump prepared to make a "major statement" at the White House on Sunday morning.

Newsweek said the operation took place in Syria's northwestern Idlib province and was carried out by special operations forces after receiving actionable intelligence.

Other US officials contacted by Reuters declined to comment.

The Pentagon did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

White House spokesman Hogan Gidley announced late on Saturday that Trump would make a "major statement" at 9 am EST (1300 GMT) on Sunday.

Gidley gave no further details.

The president gave an indication that something was afoot earlier on Saturday night when he tweeted without explanation, "Something very big has just happened!" Trump has been frustrated by the US news media's heavy focus on the Democratic-led impeachment inquiry, which he calls an illegitimate witch hunt.

He has also faced withering criticism from both Republicans and Democrats alike for his US troop withdrawal from northeastern Syria, which permitted Turkey to attack America's Kurdish allies.

Trump was expected to make the statement in the White House Diplomatic Reception Room, which he has used to make a number of major announcements.

Just last week he used the same room to announce that a ceasefire between Turkey and the Kurds had taken hold.