When the U.S. Army’s Delta Force units carried out the raid against ISIS leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi they avoided an ambush at the doors to Baghdadi’s compound by making a doorway of their own – with explosives.
The Delta Forces team departed from a U.S. airfield in Erbil, Iraq on a number of CH-47 Chinook helicopters while Apache helicopter gunships escorted them to the village of Barisha in the Idlib province of Syria where Baghdadi had been hiding, according to Time Magazine. Those apache helicopters and other U.S. fixed-winged aircraft provided aerial covering fire which allowed the Delta Forces soldiers to land and surround the compound.
The surrounding U.S. forces reportedly came to know much about Baghdadi’s location thanks to a tip from the wife of an ISIS aid as well as one of Baghdadi’s couriers. Provided with a number of names and locations, U.S. intelligence officials and Iraqi and Kurdish intelligence sources began employing agents to monitor Baghdadi’s routes of travel and keep track of his patterns of movement.
For some time, the U.S. reportedly planned its means of taking the ISIS leader down, including drone strikes and other means of a ground attack, before deciding on the airborne Delta Forces raid against Baghdadi’s compound on Saturday.
Having surrounded Baghdadi’s compound with the terror group’s leader inside, those same U.S. special operations forces reportedly offered a chance for the inhabitants of the ISIS compound to surrender, but were refused.
Faced with further uncertainty about what awaited them on the other side of the compound’s doors, the Delta Forces operators instead blew a hole in one of the compound’s walls, allowing them and at least one special operations dog to storm in from another direction.
“If you’re a normal person, you say, ‘Knock, knock. May I come in?'” President Donald Trump said in a Sunday press conference detailing the raid. “The fact is that they blasted their way into the house and a very heavy wall, and it took them literally seconds. By the time those things went off, they had a beautiful, big hole, and they ran in and they got everybody by surprise.
Baghdadi himself had attempted to flee at some point before the Delta Forces team trapped him in a dead-end tunnel.
“We tried to call him out and asked him to surrender himself. He refused,” Defense Secretary Mark Esper said of another effort the Delta Forces team made to let Baghdadi surrender.
Baghdadi instead detonated a suicide bomb and killed himself and three of his children he had taken as a human shield.
No members of the Delta Forces team or any other supporting U.S. forces were killed in the raid, though one U.S. dog was reportedly injured in the explosion.
In his recounting of the operation, Trump credited the professionalism of the U.S. forces carrying out the raid. Despite Baghdadi taking his own life and the lives of his children, Trump said those U.S. forces were able to perform DNA tests to confirm Baghdadi’s remains.
Trump said U.S. forces were also able to capture extensive intelligence information, including much having to do with ISIS origins and the terror group’s future plans.