The Department of Defense released the video of the assault on the Al-Baghdadi compound on Wednesday evening. Marine Corps Gen. Kenneth F. McKenzie, Jr., commander of U.S. Central Command, conducted the press briefing and release, commenting that after US Forces were done, the compound now “looks like a parking lot full of holes.”
On October 25, Secretary of Defense Mark Esper and Joint Chiefs of Staff Chairman Mark Milley were briefed on the mission and its risks. Then the President was briefed as well, and set about the task of de-conflicting the other players in the area to mitigate any mistakes. Russia and Turkey were those players – he did not tell them the nature of the mission, but only that our troops would be active in the area.
100 Delta Force Operatives, 8 Chinook helicopters
(According to the transcript by Defense,gov)
From the staging area in Northern Syria, 100 Delta Force operatives, 8 helicopters and various drones took off and flew about one hour to reach the Al-Baghdadi compound. When they reached the objective, local fighters began firing on US aircraft.
“These individuals, who we don’t assess were affiliated with Baghdadi, but nonetheless demonstrated hostile intent against U.S. forces, were killed by two air strikes from supporting helicopters.” General McKenzie
The General made it a point to say that those who surrendered were treated humanely, and any non-combatants were ultimately released, including 11 children that they believed would be there as well. Five members of ISIS who refused to get out of the compound and presented a threat to the Delta Force operators were killed- 4 women, one man.
Once inside, the Delta operators found al-Baghdadi hiding in a tunnel.
“When capture at the hands of U.S. forces was imminent, Baghdadi detonated a bomb that he wore, killing himself and two young children that were with him.
The number two is a change. We originally thought there were three children with him, and this is the number we originally reported up the chain of command. We now know the number to be two, based on subsequent debriefing.” General McKenzie
Once the assault troops gathered the DNA evidence, as well as a “substantial” amount of documentation that was found at the al-Baghdadi compound, “standoff” munitions were deployed to completely destroy the structure. The General stated that it was done to preclude the making of any shrine.
The General also stated that the K9 that assisted with the mission had participated in about 50 missions, and was injured by live electrical wires that were exposed when Al-Baghdadi detonated his vest. The Belgian Malinois has been returned to duty.
When asked if the President’s withdrawal of US forces caused them to hurry up and get it done, the General stated “Absolutely not.” They chose the timing based on a variety of factors, and remarked that the US military has the capability “to go almost anywhere and support ourselves even at great distances.” In other words, the President’s action had no bearing on the mission.
“The individuals who planned and conducted the mission are quiet professionals, focused on their mission above glory or recognition. Committed people did hard, risky work, and they did it well.” General McKenzie
Featured photo: screenshot via NBC