Pentagon releases video of raid that killed ISIS leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi
The Pentagon on Wednesday released video footage of the raid that led to the death of Islamic State leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi.
Marine Corps Gen. Kenneth F. McKenzie Jr., commander of U.S. Central Command, gave a play-by-play of the special operations forces raid on an ISIS compound in northern Syria last Saturday that ended with Baghdadi killing himself with an explosive vest.
Overall, U.S. forces killed six ISIS members – four women and another man aside from Baghdadi – in the raid. McKenzie also clarified that Baghdadi’s explosive vest also killed two children he had brought with him into a tunnel when U.S. troops pursued him.
“He crawled into a hole with two small children and blew himself up while his people stayed on the ground,” the general said.
“…at the compound, fighters from two locations in the vicinity of the compound began firing on U.S. aircraft participating in the assault.”
– Gen Frank McKenzie CDR USCENTCOM pic.twitter.com/SkrtHNDs7w
— U.S. Central Command (@CENTCOM) October 30, 2019
In a national address on Sunday, President Trump described the nighttime airborne raid in Syria’s northwestern Idlib province, with American special operations forces flying over heavily militarized territory controlled by multiple nations and forces. No U.S. troops were killed in the operation, Trump said.
The death of Baghdadi was a milestone in the fight against ISIS, which brutalized swaths of Syria and Iraq and sought to direct a global campaign from a self-declared “caliphate.” A yearslong campaign by American and allied forces led to the recapture of the group’s territorial holding, but its violent ideology has continued to inspire attacks.
Baghdadi’s identity was confirmed by a DNA test conducted onsite, Trump said. The ISIS leader was later buried at sea.
The operation marked a significant foreign policy success for Trump, coming at a perceived low point in his presidency amid the House impeachment inquiry and widespread Republican condemnation for his Syria policy.
The recent pullback of U.S. troops he ordered from northern Syria raised a storm of bipartisan criticism in Washington that the militant group could regain strength after it had lost vast stretches of territory it had once controlled. Trump said the troop pullout “had nothing to do with this.”
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