by WGN 9
The Pentagon released newly declassified video and images Wednesday of the daring, two hour raid targeting ISIS leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi that shows US forces taking small arms fire from multiple locations as their helicopters approached the compound.
Video from an overhead drone also shows the commandos approaching Baghdadi’s compound and aerial strikes carried out by US F-15 fighter jets and MQ-9 Reaper Drones to blow up the site once it was cleared.
The commander of US Central Command, Gen. Frank McKenzie, said the DNA used to confirm Baghdadi’s identity was from samples collected during his previous detention at Camp Bucca in Iraq.
McKenzie told reporters that he could not confirm that Baghdadi was “whimpering and crying” in his final moments as President Donald Trump claimed in his televised address on Sunday.
However, McKenzie added the terror leader “crawled into a hole with two small children and blew himself up while his people stayed on the ground. So you can deduce what type of person that is based on that activity.”
McKenzie also revealed that Baghdadi may have shot at US forces from the hole.
While Trump and other military officials initially believed Baghdadi had killed three children after detonating his suicide vest in a tunnel, McKenzie said updated information had revealed that only two children had been with him, with both of them being assessed to be under 12 years old.
He did reveal that special operations forces that carried out the raid were pre-staged in Syria, news that comes after Trump ordered most US troops to be removed from the country.
McKenzie said the US forces withdrawal from Syria was not a “limiting factor” in the raid, and that it had nothing to do with the timing, which was determined “given the totality of the intelligence … and the other factors that would affect the raid force going in and coming out.”
Kurds ‘were part of it’
McKenzie said the Kurdish-led Syrian Democratic Forces provided “early intelligence” that “was very helpful to us,” adding “So I would say that they were part of it” while making it clear that only US personnel were involved in the raid itself.
He said that the US had “fleeting and actionable” intelligence on the ISIS leader’s hideout prior to launching the operation.