Pentagon says military dog injured in al-Baghdadi raid ‘fully recovering’
The Pentagon said Monday that the U.S. military dog injured in the Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi raid is “fully recovering” after playing a role in the operation that led to the death of the leader of ISIS.
Army Gen. Mark A. Milley, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, told reporters during a briefing Monday that the dog “performed a tremendous service” and was “slightly wounded” but is now “fully recovering.”
Officials are not releasing specific information about the dog, or photos of him or her, with Milley saying the canine is “is still in theater.” The dog has “returned to duty” and is back “with its handler,” he said.
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“We’re protecting the dog’s identity,” Milley said.
President Trump first revealed Sunday that military dogs chased al-Baghdadi down a dark underground tunnel before the leader of ISIS detonated a suicide vest.
Defense Secretary Mark Esper, along with Milley, held the briefing Monday to discuss details of the raid, saying no U.S. troops were killed in the operation and saying it was conducted “brilliantly.” The officials also confirmed that videos and photos of the raid exist.
“We do have videos, photos,” Milley said. “We’re not prepared at this time to release those. They’re going through a declassification process.” Both Trump and the officials indicated Monday that footage could be released at some stage.
Milley also said service members obtained certain “material” during the raid, but said, “I don’t want to say exactly what or how much.” Further, he confirmed that two adult men were captured alive from the compound and have been taken to a “secure facility.”
The chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff confirmed that the disposal of al-Baghdadi’s remains “is complete and was handled appropriately.”
A source told Fox News on Monday the remains were buried at sea – the same approach used with former Al Qaeda leader Usama bin Laden to prevent a grave from becoming a rallying point or shrine for followers.
The death of al-Baghdadi was a milestone in the fight against ISIS, which brutalized swaths of Syria and Iraq and sought to direct a global campaign from a self-declared “caliphate.” A yearslong campaign by American and allied forces led to the recapture of the group’s territorial holding, but its violent ideology has continued to inspire attacks.
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“Baghdadi and the thugs who followed him were responsible for some of the most brutal atrocities of our time,” Esper 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.”
Esper thanked the service members involved in the raid.
“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,” he said.
In his national address Sunday, Trump described the nighttime airborne raid in Syria’s northwestern Idlib province, with American special operations forces flying over heavily militarized territory controlled by multiple nations and forces.
He said U.S. forces breached the walls of the building because the doors were booby-trapped and chased al-Baghdadi into the tunnel, which partially collapsed after al-Baghdadi detonated the suicide vest. Trump said three children who were with al-Baghdadi were also killed in the blast.
Fox News’ Jennifer Griffin and Catherine Herridge and The Associated Press contributed to this report.