In a press interview, the Department of Defense (DoD) released footage of the Delta Force operation that killed the leader of ISIS Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi.
General Frank McKenzie, the commander of U.S. Central Command (CENTCOM) also provided additional information about the operation.
According to CENTCOM, the general plan for the operation was a helicopter assault by Delta and the Rangers. They launched from two sites, Erbil, Iraq, and an undisclosed location in Syria. Gen. McKenzie added that “the plan was significantly more complex than that, and designed to avoid detection by ISIS and others prior to and during execution, to avoid civilian casualties. This operation was exquisitely planned and executed. It demonstrates the United States’ global reach and our unwavering commitment to destroy ISIS.”
"…at the compound, fighters from two locations in the vicinity of the compound began firing on U.S. aircraft participating in the assault."
– Gen Frank McKenzie CDR USCENTCOM pic.twitter.com/SkrtHNDs7w
— U.S. Central Command (@CENTCOM) October 30, 2019
CENTCOM also released a very brief video of the operation. This is the initial phase where the operators are approaching the target compound. The building is still intact. The assault force breached one of the corners of the building (the one with the raised structure on top) in order to avoid possible booby traps.
Speaking about the last moments of the terrorist leader, Gen. McKenzie said that “when capture at the hands of U.S. forces was imminent, Baghdadi detonated a bomb killing himself and two young children. After Baghdadi’s murder-suicide, our assault force cleared significant debris from the tunnel and secured Baghdadi’s remains for DNA identity confirmation.”
Utilizing biometrical tools, the operators were able to verify the identity of the man on the spot. A DNA sample, however, was also taken to ensure 100 percent verification. The results showed a direct match between the gathered sample and a previous sample that had been taken when al-Baghdadi had been captured during the Iraqi insurgency in 2004.
“The rapid analysis showed a direct match between the samples and produced a level of certainty that the remains belonged to Baghdadi of 1 in 104 septillion,” noted Gen. McKenzie.
Gen. McKenzie also revealed a surprising fact about the operation. “I want to make it clear that despite the high-pressure and high-profile nature of this assault that every effort was made to avoid civilian casualties and to protect children we suspected would be in the compound. With the assault force surrounding the compound, we repeatedly urged those inside to come out peacefully.”
Callouts, as the practice is known, are quite unpopular with operators. After quietly slithering to their target, they have to give away their presence, and thus lose the element of surprise, in an attempt to ensure the terrorists or insurgents inside get a chance to surrender – something that rarely happens. The practice is more geared toward ensuring politicians and higher-ups don’t have to deal with a PR shitstorm in the event that civilians end up dying in an operation.
The compound at the end of the operation and before an orbiting drone destroyed it.
Regarding the Delta operators, Gen. McKenzie said that “the individuals who planned and conducted this mission are quiet professionals, focused on their mission above glory or recognition. Committed people did hard, risky work, and they did it well.”
It’s worth emphasizing the “mission above glory or recognition” statement. Unlike other units within the Joint Special Operations Command (JSOC), Delta adheres to a code of quiet professionalism – actions speak for themselves.
The remains of the terrorist leader were buried at sea within a 24-hour period of his death, adhering to the stipulations of the Law of Armed conflict and the Muslim tradition.
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