National Security

Trump’s Syria Withdrawal Decision Had No Impact on Military Raid That Killed al-Baghdadi

Top general for American forces in the Middle East made this knowledge clear on Wednesday to reporters at the Pentagon

Image Credit: Twitter, Donald J. Trump

This is about setting the record straight.

It’s something Americans should know.

Yet it’s not something most mainstream media outlets will likely report or emphasize in any way.

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Speaking to reporters at the Pentagon on Wednesday, U.S. Central Command Gen. Ken McKenzie said clearly that President Donald Trump’s recent decision to withdraw American troops from Syria earlier this month — the small amount of troops who were still there — had no impact at all on the timing or execution of the raid this past Saturday that killed ISIS leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi.

“Absolutely not,” McKenzie said, as Defense One reported on Wednesday evening.

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“We chose the time based on a variety of factors: weather, certainty, lunar data,” said McKenzie.

“While it might have been convenient to use bases [in Syria], the U.S. military has the capability to go almost anywhere and support ourselves even at great distances.”

“We struck because the time was about right to do it then, given the totality of the intelligence and the other factors that would affect the raid force going in and coming out,” he also said.

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“Intelligence and military officials speaking to news outlets on background have claimed that Trump’s controversial Syrian withdrawal, which followed a phone call with Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, complicated the risky nighttime raid in northern Syria,” as Defense One also noted.

“U.S. forces killed five other ISIS members inside the compound during the raid that killed ISIS leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi on Saturday, including four women and one man, according to the top general for American forces in the Middle East.”

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The Pentagon on Wednesday also released video of the attack on the ISIS leader’s compound.

See this tweet with the video, for example:

Also made clear on Wednesday: ISIS leader al-Baghdadi killed two children, not three — as Trump said on Sunday — when the terrorist leader detonated his suicide vest rather than be captured by American troops who were closing in on him in a tunnel.

The two children who died when Baghdadi executed his suicide vest are thought to have been under the age of 12, Defense One also noted.

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“Helicopters supporting the mission also killed an unspecified number of fighters at two locations close to the compound where Baghdadi was hiding in northern Syria, after those fighters began firing on aircraft participating in the assault, McKenzie said. He said that the military does not believe those fighters were affiliated with Baghdadi,” as the same outlet also reported.

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