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U.S. Military Acted Swiftly on Intel to Capture or Kill Baghdadi

Carla Babb – Voice of America

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WASHINGTON – Defense Secretary Mark Esper and Vice President Mike Pence mentioned late-breaking intelligence gave unique forces the opening they required to carry out the attack on Islamic State leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi just after President Trump authorized the raid earlier this previous week.

Vice President Mike Pence told CBS News that by Thursday afternoon, the U.S. had a “high probability” that Baghdadi would be in the compound in Idlib, Syria. He added that the U.S. received “actionable intelligence” on Saturday morning that permitted the mission to move forward that evening.

A U.S. official told VOA the operation was staged from a base in Iraq. President Trump mentioned eight helicopters flew slightly more than an hour to attain the compound.
 
Esper mentioned soldiers had intended on capturing Baghdadi but have been ready to kill him, if important. The group referred to as out to Baghdadi to attempt to get him to surrender.

“He refused. He went down to a subterranean location, and in the course of action of attempting to get him out, he detonated a suicide vest, we think, and killed himself,” Esper told CNN.

According to Pence, the president looked at choices presented to him by military leaders on Friday morning.

“He reviewed them, asked some excellent queries, chose the alternative that we believed gave us the highest probability of accomplishment and confirmation that the head of ISIS would be there and either captured or killed,” Esper added.

Esper mentioned there have been two “minor” injuries to U.S. soldiers in the operation, who have considering that returned to duty. Trump also indicated a U.S. K-9 was injured.

Mazloum Abdi, the commander of the Syrian Democratic Forces who partnered with the U.S. to defeat Islamic State in Syria, thanked the president on Twitter Sunday and mentioned there had been monitoring and “joint intel cooperation on the ground” with the U.S. for 5 months.

He referred to as the death of Baghdadi a “joint operation,” and hinted at “other helpful operations” involving the U.S. and SDF in the future. He later mentioned an operation in the area targeted and killed Islamic State spokesman Hassan al-Muhajir.  U.S. officials would not comment on Abdi’s Tweets.

For the duration of the announcement, Trump thanked the SDF, Iraq, Russia, Turkey and Syria, in addition to U.S. military forces who have been “so brave and so superior.”

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