ISIS founder Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi's compound disappeared in a mushroom cloud after being obliterated by a U.S. airstrike following the successful Oct. 26 Delta Force raid, according to video released by the Pentagon on Wednesday.
“It looks pretty much like a parking lot with large potholes right now,” said Marine Gen. Kenneth McKenzie, head of U.S. Central Command.
McKenzie, who was the operational commander for the special operations raid into northwest Syria, revealed more details about the mission during a Pentagon news briefing.
In a “murder/suicide,” Baghdadi killed two children under the age of 12 when he detonated his suicide vest to avoid being captured by U.S. troops, McKenzie said. The U.S. military originally thought that Baghdadi had killed three children.
Before exploding his suicide vest, Baghdadi may have fired on the U.S. assault team, McKenzie said.
McKenzie was unable to verify President Donald Trump's comments that Baghdadi died whimpering and crying.
“I can tell you this: He crawled into a hole with two small children and blew himself up while his people stayed on the ground,” McKenzie said. “You can deduce what kind of person it is based on that activity. I'm not able to confirm anything else about his last seconds. I just can't confirm that one way or another.”
A total of six people were killed in the raid: Four women and two men, including Baghdadi, McKenzie said. Eleven other children were safely removed from the compound and U.S. troops took two other men prisoner.
The mission was supported by unmanned aircraft, attack helicopters, and “5th Generation fighters,” a term used to describe F-22 Raptors and F-35 Joint Strike Fighters, McKenzie said.
During the course of the raid, U.S. forces had to kill other militant forces in the region that were not part of ISIS, including five fighters who had shot at U.S. helicopters at the start of the mission, McKenzie said.
“Once they saw the helicopters land and begin to operate, they began to flow toward it,” McKenzie said. “But they were not flowing to reinforce him. They were flowing toward what they thought was perhaps a Turk military operation, perhaps a Russian military operation, perhaps an American military operation – they didn't know.”
The U.S. military estimates that between 10 and 15 of these other fighters were killed, although the actual number may never be known “because we're not going to go back out there and count,” he said.
While the U.S. military has not released the names of the units or service members involved with the raid, the military working dog that was injured after Baghdadi killed himself became famous when Trump tweeted a picture of him.
The dog is a four-year veteran of the special operations K9 program and has gone on roughly 50 combat missions, McKenzie said.
“He was injured by exposed, live electrical cables in the tunnel after Baghdadi detonated his vest beneath the compound,” Marine Gen. Kenneth McKenzie Jr. said at a Pentagon news briefing. “I'll also note he has been returned to duty.”