26 raid by US special forces on the compound of Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi in northwestern Syria that led to the death of the Islamic State leader.
“As it became clear that we had gained clear and actionable intelligence on his hideout, we developed a plan designed to capture or kill him and started preparing a special operations team for the mission,” said Marine Corps Gen.
McKenzie during a press conference at the Pentagon.
McKenzie said he had briefed US military leaders on the intelligence and the plan on Friday, the day before the raid, adding, that, with the approval of Defense Secretary Dr.
Esper and Army Gen.
Milley, the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, he briefed President Donald J.
Trump on all aspects of the plan, including the risks involved in its execution.
The special operations team was staged in Syria and launched against an isolated compound in Idlib province, about 4 miles from the Turkish border.
“We assess that he was hiding in Idlib province to avoid the intense pressure that had been put on ISIS in other areas of Syria,” the general said.
The Kurdish-led Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) was behind the recruitment of a crucial defector whose information led to the successful raid, The Washington Post reported late on Tuesday.
Read More: SDF provided key informant for raid on Baghdadi: US sources
The informant turned against the terrorist organization, one official told the Post, because it had killed one of his relatives.
Yet the man remained “a trusted facilitator and logistics aide” who helped Baghdadi “move among safe houses in the Idlib area” and “even helped oversee construction work on his Syrian safe house.”
At Wednesday’s press conference, McKenzie said, “I would also note that the plan accounted for the assumption that we would find multiple children at the objective,” adding that the team was inserted by helicopter and protected by attack choppers, unmanned strike aircraft and fourth- and fifth-generation fighters, McKenzie said.