WASHINGTON (AP) – The general who oversaw the United States (US) raid on Islamic State (IS) leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi provided the most detailed account yet of the operation on Wednesday and said the US is on alert for possible “retribution attacks” by extremists.
Gen Kenneth ‘Frank’ McKenzie, head of US Central Command, said al-Baghdadi’s remains were buried at sea within 24 hours of his death inside an underground tunnel where he fled as special operations soldiers closed in on him.
The Pentagon released the first government photos and video clips of the night-time operation, including one showing Delta Force commandos approaching the walls of the compound in which al-Baghdadi and others were found.
Another video showed American airstrikes on other militants who fired at helicopters carrying soldiers to the compound. The US also bombed the compound after the soldiers completed the mission so that it would not stand as a shrine to al-Baghdadi.
“It looks pretty much like a parking lot with large potholes right now,” McKenzie said.
The attacking American force launched from an undisclosed location inside Syria for the one-hour helicopter ride to the compound, McKenzie said.
Two children died with al-Baghdadi when he detonated a bomb vest, McKenzie said, adding that this was one fewer than originally reported.
He said the children appeared to be under the age of 12. Eleven other children were escorted from the site unharmed.
Four women and two men who were wearing suicide vests and refused to surrender inside the compound were killed, McKenzie said.
The general said the military dog that was injured during the raid is a four-year veteran with US Special Operations Command and had been on approximately 50 combat missions.