The US military on Wednesday confirmed that Islamic State (ISIS) leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi was buried at sea in accordance with international norms. The ISIS leader was killed during an operation by US Special Forces in Syria's Idlib province. Baghdadi died on Sunday after he blew up his suicide vest following the US raid on his compound, some four miles from Turkish border. Pentagon also released video footage and photos of the raid which showed the compound where al-Baghdadi was hiding.
Releasing a few short videos of the strike, US Central Command Commander General Kenneth Mckenzie told reporters at a Pentagon news conference that after the raid, Baghdadi's compound looks "pretty much like a parking lot with large potholes." The compound was destroyed in a way to ensure that it would not be a shrine or otherwise memorable in any way.
"It's just another piece of ground now," he said.
"...at the compound, fighters from two locations in the vicinity of the compound began firing on U.S. aircraft participating in the assault."— U.S. Central Command (@CENTCOM) October 30, 2019
- Gen Frank McKenzie CDR USCENTCOM pic.twitter.com/SkrtHNDs7w
Before Baghdadi was found by the US forces running for life in a tunnel, American troops killed five ISIS members, including four women who engaged with them in fire, Mckenzie said. He said two children, appeared to be under 12 years old, were killed in the raid, not three as believed earlier.
"About Baghdadi's last moments. I can tell you this, he crawled into a hole with two small children, blew himself up while his people stayed on the ground. So, you can deduce what kind of person it is based on that activity," he said but refused to confirm or deny anything else about his last seconds.
McKenzie said in all six ISIS members were killed including four women and two men. He added that 11 children were protected by the assault force and two men were detained.
Giving details of the operation, the American general said the US forces cleared significant debris from the tunnel and secured Baghdadi's remains for DNA identity confirmation.
"Following collection of samples for formal DNA analysis, Baghdadi's remains were buried at sea in accordance with the law of armed conflict within 24 hours of his death," he said.
According to the CENTCOM Commander, Defence Intelligence Agency conducted the analysis and compared DNA from the remains taken from the compound with an on-file sample taken when Baghdadi was at Camp Bucca Prison in Iraq in 2004.
"The analysis showed a direct match between the samples and produce a level of certainty that the remains belonged to Baghdadi of one in 104 septillion, which is certainly beyond a shadow of a doubt," he said.
(With PTI Inputs)