Islamic State

Al-Baghdadi: US Military Releases Video Of Raid On IS Leader's Syria Compound

Video footage shows US special forces approaching the compound and the site then being destroyed.

The Pentagon has released video and photos of the US special forces raid that resulted in the death of the Islamic State group (IS) leader, Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi.

Among the images released by the United States Defense Department was grainy black-and-white footage, including US troops approaching the high-walled compound in north-western Syria, where Baghdadi was holed up.

Describing the footage in a statement, Marine Corps General Kenneth McKenzie, Commander of US Central Command, said that non-threatening groups inside the surrounded compound were "treated humanely at all times, and included 11 children."

Four women and one man, who "did not respond to commands in Arabic to surrender", were killed.

"As it became clear that we had gained fleeting and actionable intelligence on his hideout, we developed an executional level plan designed to capture or kill him and started preparing a special operations team for the mission," Gen McKenzie said.

Map showing Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi's compound before and after the raid
Before and after: the compound prior to the raid, and then after it was destroyed by US aircraft (Picture: US Department of Defense/DigitalGlobe).

The Pentagon also released footage of US aircraft engaging unknown fighters on the ground who opened fire on helicopters ferrying troops in, before the assault on the compound.

According to the general, the complex operation called upon "armed helicopters, multiple unmanned strike aircraft and fourth-and fifth-generation fighters" to support and defend US forces.

Facing imminent capture at the hand of the US forces, including a military dog, al-Baghdadi was said to have "crawled into a hole with two small children" before detonating a bomb he was wearing.

This figure differs from the original statement from President Trump, who had said that three of al-Baghdadi's children were killed in the blast.

Once US forces were outside of the area, the site was destroyed by precision standoff munitions, General McKenzie describing the current state of the compound "like a parking lot with large potholes".

Six IS members - four women, two men, including al-Baghdadi, were said to have "died on the objective", in addition to the two children.

The remains of the IS leader were gathered from the tunnel in which he died for positive DNA verification. The body was later buried at sea, "in accordance with the law of armed conflict", Gen McKenzie said. 

Map showing approximate location of Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi's compound in Syria
The approximate location of where the raid took place (Picture: US Department of Defense).

After watching the mission as it took place in the Situation Room in Washington, US President Donald Trump announced the death of the IS leader.

Mr Trump suggested releasing footage to the public, as a vehicle to dissuade potential recruits from joining the group. 

The US President has since announced the death of al-Baghdadi's likely successor.

During his recent announcement, General McKenzie said the US is on high alert for "retribution attacks".

He said: "We don't see a bloodless future, because, unfortunately, this ideology is going to be out there, but we think there's a way to get to a point where it's going to be less."

Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi in video
Footage shows the building that hosted the IS leader, which was soon destroyed by air strikes.