Inside the dramatic US military raid that killed ISIS leader Baghdadi

Inside the dramatic US military raid that killed ISIS leader Baghdadi

President Donald Trump announced Sunday morning in a televised address at the White House that the “world’s number one terrorist leader” is dead.

ISIS leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi “blew himself up” when cornered by US forces who conducted a daring, two-hour nighttime raid on his compound in northern Syria, Trump said, providing a detailed account of the mission.
“Last night was a great night for the United States and for the world. A brutal killer, one who has caused so much hardship and death, has violently been eliminated,” he added.
Baghdadi’s death marks the end of a years-long hunt to find one of the most wanted terrorists in the world and the man who declared a so-called Islamic caliphate in Iraq and Syria in 2014.
It was the most significant announcement of the death of a terror leader since President Barack Obama revealed al-Qaeda leader Osama bin Laden had been killed by US Navy Seals in a dramatic late night address in May 2011.
“This is a devastating blow. This is not just their leader, it’s their founder. He was an inspirational leader in many ways. He formed ISIS in 2014, he led to establishing the physical caliphate throughout the region, so this is a major blow to them,” Defense Secretary Mark Esper told Jake Tapper Sunday on CNN’s “State of the Union.”

How the raid unfolded

The covert operation started around 5 p.m. on Saturday evening as eight helicopters carrying teams of elite US troops, including Delta Force operators, flew exactly one hour and ten minutes over “very, very dangerous territory” towards the compound, according to Trump. Numerous other US aircraft and ships were also involved in the mission.
Some of the US forces originated from various locations inside Iraq, according to a US official.
“We flew very, very low and very, very fast. It was a very dangerous part of the mission. Getting in and getting out, too. Equal. We wanted an identical — we took an identical route,” Trump told reporters on Sunday while providing a detailed account of the secret mission.
While in transit, the helicopters were met with local gunfire. US aircraft returned fire and eliminated the threat, Trump said.
After arriving at the compound, US troops breached a wall to avoid a booby trapped entrance and that’s when “all hell broke loose,” the President added.
While clearing the compound, US forces killed a “large number” of ISIS fighters during a gun battle without suffering casualties, according to Trump.
At least two ISIS fighters were captured and 11 children were taken into custody. Two of Baghdadi’s wives were killed during the operation and their suicide vests remained unexploded.
Ultimately Baghdadi, who was also wearing a suicide vest, took refuge in a “dead end” tunnel with three children.
“He reached the end of the tunnel, as our dogs chased him down. He ignited his vest, killing himself and the three children. His body was mutilated by the blast. The tunnel had caved in on it in addition,” Trump said.
DNA tests that positively confirmed Baghdadi’s identity began “about 15 minutes after he was killed” and US teams on the ground “brought body parts back,” sources told CNN.
The President also said US forces obtained “highly sensitive material and information from the raid, much having to do with ISIS — origins, future plans, things that we very much want.”
“The raid was successful. We pulled our troops out. We had two minor casualties, two minor injuries, to our soldiers but a very successful, flawless raid,” Esper told CNN’s Jake Tapper Sunday.
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