President Donald Trump has presented a Presidential Unit Citation to the U.S. special operations forces involved in the raid took out ISIS chief Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi just over a year ago, the White House announced.
Trump quietly met with the members of the Army Special Forces team involved in the raid in what the White House had described as a “troop engagement” event at Fort Bragg in North Carolina on Thursday, reported the Associated Press.
“It was a really special moment,” White House press secretary Kayleigh McEnany told reporters of the meeting, per Fox News. “Meant a lot to the president. He was with our heroes for about an hour just having casual conversations, answering questions.”
The Presidential Unit Citation is awarded to units that display “extraordinary heroism in action” against armed enemies of the United States, according to the Army.
“The unit must display such gallantry, determination, and esprit de corps in accomplishing its mission under extremely difficult and hazardous conditions as to set it apart and above other units participating in the same campaign,” according to the Army.
The presentation of the citation came just over a year after the Oct. 26, 2019, raid that led to the death of al-Baghdadi in his compound in Syria’s Idlib province.
Dubbed ‘Operation Kayla Mueller’ after one of ISIS’s American victims, that raid saw members of U.S. Joint Special Operations Command’s 1st Special Forces Operational Detachment-Delta, along with soldiers from the 75th Ranger Regiment, conduct an air assault raid on the isolated compound.
During the course of the raid, al-Baghdadi detonated a suicide vest and killed himself in order to avoid the American commandos.
The death of al-Baghdadi was considered a critical blow against ISIS forces in Iraq and Syria and a crowning achievement of Trump’s first term as commander-in-chief.