US Central Command commander Gen. Frank McKenzie told the press at a Pentagon briefing Wednesday about the lead-up to and carrying out of the mission in Idlib Governorate, as well as the subsequent confirmation of the Daesh leader’s identity and the destruction of the site to ensure no kind of shrine facilitating al-Baghdadi’s martyrdom could be constructed.
“Baghdadi was the subject of an intense inter-agency effort to bring him to justice, and that effort significantly advanced recently as we closed in on his whereabouts,” McKenzie said. “As it became clear that we had gained fleeting and actionable intelligence on his hideout, we developed an execution level plan designed to capture or kill him and started preparing a special operations team for the mission.”
The CENTCOM chief said the operation was a helicopter assault that was pre-staged in Syria. At the site, US Special Forces found several children under the age of 12 and four women, as well as two men, none of whom put down their arms when directed to do so. The Daesh leader retreated to a tunnel with two children, where he detonated an explosive device that killed all three.
McKenzie noted that DNA samples taken from his remains matched those from his 2004 detention at Camp Bucca in…