On Saturday night, approximately 70 special operators hailing from Delta Force’s A Squadron and the 75th Ranger Regiment stormed a compound in the Idlib Province of Northeast Syria, successfully neutralizing one of history’s most despotic leaders, Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi. The mission has been hailed as a complete success, with no American troops lost and one service dog injured, but amidst all the media hype surrounding this story, it’s easy to forget just how dangerous this operation was for the troops involved before they ever even put their boots on the ground.
According to SOFREP sources within the Joint Special Operations Command (JSOC), the U.S. Army’s legendary 160th Special Operations Aviation Regiment (SOAR), also commonly known as the Nightstalkers, were the aviation unit tasked with ferrying Delta and the Rangers in and out of the fight. In total, eight helicopters (a combination of MH-60 Blackhawks and MH-47 Chinooks) participated. And it seems the engagement that ultimately ended with al-Baghdadi taking his own life actually kicked off well before America’s special operators were anywhere near the compound.
Although not yet publicly disclosed, sources within JSOC confirmed for SOFREP that the assault force launched from Erbil, Iraq — some 450 miles away from al-Baghdadi’s compound. This is a far greater distance to cover by air en route to an objective than during the raid to kill Osama Bin Laden, greatly increasing the risk of early warning for the target as well as exposing aircraft and personnel to a greater likelihood of ground-to-air engagement. In order to make this flight less dangerous, the Russian military was notified of the impending raid so as to limit the chances that the American aircraft might be engaged by Russian or Syrian air defense assets.
Americans called Russians on “de-confliction” line to warn of pending U.S. military assault on Baghdadi compound in NW Syria. No de-confliction with Turkey who “did not help in any way,” U.S. defense official says