On Sunday, US President Donald Trump announced that Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, leader of terror group ISIS, died during an overnight raid led by US military forces in Syria. Trump gave a description of the raid during a national address broadcast from the White House.
Trump further stated that the US started to receive intelligence on the location of Baghdadi about a month ago, including some “helpful” information from the Kurds. According to Trump and National Security Adviser Robert O’Brien, as per plan, the United States had to secure permission from Russia, Iraq, and Turkey to fly over their airspace.
Trump stated that the White House kept the operation secret to Russia but told Russian officials they would “like” it. Trump arrived at the White House on Saturday at around 4:30 p.m local time after a round of golf in Virginia.
In the White House, he gathered with Vice President Mike Pence, Defence Secretary Mark Esper, national security adviser Robert O’Brien, and other intelligence officials at around 5 pm. Trump stated that they watched the raid unfold live “as if you were watching a movie.”
Trump went on saying that few moments after they gathered the US military dogs lifted-off in eight helicopters from an unidentified military base in the Middle East. The personnel belonged to Delta Force which is one of the US special units that focused on counter-terrorism and often deployed to capture high-value targets.
The operation was performed from an airbase in western Iraq, said a US official. Trump said that the operation was carried out in the Idlib region of Syria was supported by military aircraft and ships.
While landing Baghdadi’s compound, the helicopters were targeted by gunfire but they suppressed the assault and land safely. They supposed the main compound door may be trapped and so they entered in just seconds by blasting through the wall, the President said.
“We were getting full reports on a minute-by-minute basis,” he added. The compound was quickly cleared by the US forces. Eleven children were removed, uninjured, and taken to care by a third party. Later the US soldiers captured and imprisoned several ISIS terrorists.
Baghdadi fled into a secret area of the complex and into a tunnel along with his young children. According to Trump, Baghdadi was chased by the dogs and confronted by a dead-end, “whimpering and crying and screaming.”
Trump claimed that he himself ignited his suicide vest, killing himself and his children and causing the tunnel to collapse. Baghdadi’s body was “mutilated by the blasts,” and the US forces used a DNA test onsite to confirm his identity in around 15 minutes.
“The test results gave certain, immediate and totally positive identification. It was him,” said Trump. O’Brien said: “We were in the Situation Room and the commander of the mission called and said, ‘100% confidence, jackpot.”