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Baghdadi's death: More details emerge from US raid: Live updates

Socialapps.Tech 16 October 28, 2019

Asked about President Trump’s comments on Sunday describing ISIS leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi as “crying” and “whimpering” shortly before his death, Joint Chiefs of Staff Chairman, Gen. Mark Milley, said, “I don’t know what the source of that.”

Milley added he believed Trump had planned to talk to members of the unit that carried out the raid that resulted in Baghdadi’s death. 

“I assume it was talking directly to unit members,” Milley said of Trump’s comments. 

Milley said he had not yet spoken to members of the unit and had not heard that characterization himself.

On Sunday, Secretary of Defense Mark Esper said he also had not heard Baghdadi’s last moments characterized that way.

Farhan Haq, spokesperson for United Nations Secretary General António Guterres, acknowledged the death of ISIS leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi in a statement today, saying the terrorist group "committed heinous crimes and brought tragedy and death to thousands of men, women and children."

"We should take this moment to remember the victims and families of victims of terrorism everywhere in the world," Haq said.

Defense Secretary Mark Esper said today that the US military will maintain a presence in Syria for the time being following the Baghdadi raid in order to protect oil fields from being seized by ISIS fighters.

Asked if this will mean the number of US troops will increase in Syria, Esper responded, "At the end of the day, we will be sending troops home."

"The President made a commitment to do that. But in the meantime, we're going to make some other moves to ensure that we can accomplish that mission of securing the oil fields in order to deny them access to ISIS," Esper said.

Asked to clarify if he means that the number of US troops in Syria will go up in order to run the operation to protect the oil, Esper responded, "No, no, no, at the end of the day, my expectation is it will be fewer than we have before."

Asked at a press briefing if the US military has video or photos of Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi's final moments, Army Gen. Mark A. Milley, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, said, "We do have videos, photos."

"We're not prepared to release those...they're going through a declassification process," Milley said.

He added that the photos and videos would be released by the military in the coming days.

US Defense Secretary Mark Esper praised President Trump's "bold decision" when he ordered the US special forces operation that ended in the death of ISIS leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi.

“There is no guarantee of success in an operation with this level of difficulty, and President Trump knew this when he made the bold decision to order the raid, confident in the expertise of our forces," Esper said.

He said the service members conducted the raid with "incredible skill and professionalism," and he noted that "not a single US service member was killed in this high-risk operation."

Esper said Baghdadi's death is a "devastating blow" for ISIS.

"Baghdadi and the thugs who followed him were responsible for some of the most brutal atrocities of our time," he said. "His death marks a devastating blow for the remnants of ISIS who are now deprived of their inspirational leader following the destruction of their physical caliphate earlier this year."

Secretary of Defense Mark Esper and Army Gen. Mark A. Milley, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, will brief the media at 1 p.m. ET from the Pentagon. 

The briefing comes after US forces cornered Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi in a two-hour nighttime raid. The ISIS leader "blew himself up" during the operation.

Baghdadi was one of the most wanted terrorists in the world.

The remains of ISIS leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi have been buried at sea, according to two US defense officials.  

On Sunday, White House national security adviser Robert O’Brien told NBC’s “Meet the Press” that he expected the US to follow the same protocol as al Qaeda leader Osama Bin Laden, who was killed in a 2011 raid in Pakistan by US Navy SEALs and buried at sea.

Appearing on MTP, O’Brien said Baghdadi’s “body will be disposed of properly.” Asked if the US would follow the same protocol as bin Laden, O’Brien said, “I would expect that to be the case.”

On the same day that an American raid killed ISIS leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, a separate attack took out the group's spokesman, according to the Kurdish-led Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF), which coordinated with the US on the joint operation.

ISIS spokesman Abu al-Hassan al-Muhajir was killed near Jarablus, in northern Syria, the SDF's general commander Mazloum Abdi tweeted on Sunday.

SDF spokesman Kino Gabriel told CNN that al-Muhajir was killed on the "same day" as Baghdadi. A senior Iraqi military official also confirmed to CNN that two other ISIS leaders died alongside al-Muhajir.

A US official told CNN that al-Muhajir was likely dead, but could not confirm.

Secretary of State Mike Pompeo on Monday expressed confidence that the US will be able to continue to gather intelligence despite largely withdrawing from Syria and cutting ties with the Kurds.

“I have enormous confidence that we’ll have intelligence professionals where we need them, we’ll be able to reach them,” Pompeo, who was the CIA director for more than a year, told Fox & Friends.

“I have a pretty good sense of how those operations, those intelligence operations, are conducted,��� he said. “It’s complex, it’s sophisticated, it is broad, it is deep. “

Pompeo said the threat of radical Islamic extremism had not gone away, but that he was confident the US still had the intelligence it needed to "to undertake this absolutely vital mission for American national security.”

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