The US Department of Defense on Wednesday released the first still images and footage from the US forces operation targeting Daesh leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi and gave a press conference offering further details. The raid was conducted on Oct. 26 in northwestern Syria and resulted in Baghdadi’s death, according to the Pentagon.
In a brief to reporters on Wednesday, Marine Corps Gen. Kenneth F. McKenzie said planning for the raid began much earlier, as al-Baghdadi was a longtime target of US forces.
As the US aircraft arrived at the compound, helicopters received fire from fighters on the ground. McKenzie said he believes those groups were not Daesh members, but they demonstrated “hostile intent” against US forces and were killed by two airstrikes from supporting helicopters.
The assault force surrounded the compound and urged those inside to surrender peacefully, according to the general. “Those who came out of the building were checked for weapons and explosives and moved away,” McKenzie said. “US forces detained and later released the noncombatants. The group was treated humanely at all times and included 11 children.”
Five Daesh members inside the compound presented a threat to the force, the general said.
"They did not respond to commands in Arabic to surrender," he added, "and they continued to threaten the force. They were engaged by the raid force and killed: four women and one man."
Al-Baghdadi detonated himself, killing two children with him, when trapped, according to the general.
“After Baghdadi's murder/suicide, the assault force cleared debris from the tunnel and secured Baghdadi's remains for DNA verification,” McKenzie said, adding that the remains were positively identified, and then buried at sea.
Us aircraft destroyed the compound afterward to prevent it from becoming a shrine, McKenzie said.